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Etching Memories

Senior Staff Nurse Nurul Afida Binti Sudin from SKCH nodded repeatedly as if agreeing with an inner voice that spoke to her. Right, she thought. It has to be done.

The palliative nurse for nine years has seen all the signs of death – low blood pressure and irregular breathings.  Mustering her courage, she approached the caregiver to break the news.

“Sir, your best friend may not be able to make it tonight,” she said.

Finding Closure

Nurul has a lot to tell when it comes to palliative care. For the past years, she learnt a lot from her colleagues and had first hand experience in caring for patients with critical illnesses.

"Palliative care is about the journey with patients and their caregivers to manage pain, find comfort and closure to live in order to leave well," said Nurul.

Recalling her experience in caring for a patient who suffered from end-stage pancreatic cancer, Nurul shared that the looming reality of a patient's death can be hard for the caregiver to accept.

After hearing the news that his best friend would not be able to make it through the night, the caregiver began to break down and cry. Nurul stayed behind and accompanied the caregiver till he stopped.

She found out more about him and the patient. As a best friend, the caregiver felt that it was his responsibility to take care of the patient till his very last. He had also religiously attended to most of his best friend's needs every night while still going to work the next day.

With a friendship this strong, the patient's passing was very hard to accept. To ease the situation, Nurul offered a single room for the caregiver to spend time and to bid farewell to his best friend.

For 45 minutes, he spent precious moments saying his final goodbye as closure.

And when morning came, the patient had passed away peacefully while the caregiver was allowed to accept that all that remained were their memories together.


A Source of Support

Nurul reveals that most caregivers would require the care team to help them in making decisions and guiding them on how to care for the patients to improve their quality of life.

"Caregivers may feel apprehensive during this delicate time and will heavily depend on the care team as a source of support," she said.

And learning from her experiences in palliative care, Nurul would always remind herself to be there for her loved ones and to cherish the precious times that she has with them.

 "When the time comes, we'd want all these moments to be etched in our memories," shared Nurul.