Loss of parents and the ensuing vacuum
The first bond that we have in life is that with our parents. You can never get over the grief of their loss. Sharmishtha spoke to us about caring for her parents, both of whom she lost to cancer within a span of six months. “Cancer, the word itself is a terror. (Having)Gone through the entire journey of 3 years, where the happiest people, (to) how helpless a life can become. They were very self-respecting people and (eventually) became dependent for everything.” (sic)
Her father passed away after succumbing to brain cancer during a phase when her mother was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for buccal mucosa cancer. Most of all, it was a very sensitive and all-consuming situation for the entire family.
A mother’s last wish
“My mother(Mrs. Hiraghose) left the hope of staying. She didn’t have any motivation to continue. My father was an absolute caregiver for my mother.” She chose to not get any further treatment for cancer. For her daughter, honouring her mother’s wish was everything. “I will complain about the pain at times, but don’t put me in the hospital,” her mother was very clear about what she wanted for herself.
Sharmistha hired a certified nursing assistant from Life Circle, a home nursing care provider, to assist her and provide end-of- life care to her mother in the comfort of their home. It was a very tough phase. In January 2018, there were many signs indicating that the end was near.
“You can confront a very difficult situation with manpower and support system. Sunifa Soreng, trained by Life Circle, was absolutely a fresher. A very little girl, very obedient, very soft spoken, in her full capacity, she supported my mother. She used to take her to bathe, to the toilet, make her sit in the balcony; feed her, support her to sit down, record vitals every day. (She) Used to sit beside my mother and observe everything,”[sic] says Sharmistha.
On the night when Sharmistha’s mother passed away, she had a massive heart attack and excessive bleeding because of the cancer. Talking of that day Sharmistha mentions, “That was a horrific sight, but I saw Sunifa, a little girl, might be little elder than my own daughter, was so calm. I can’t forget that girl. She did everything, she cleaned the room, all the blood, all the furniture, she wiped the blood (off it). I don’t have any sister, I was just thinking, I am grateful to this girl for my entire life, that she was there for me. Where is God, I will never see, I understand that God comes in some people when you need it the most. Sunifa, God bless her. I pray for that girl. Very difficult path she has chosen. May God give her more strength to support such patients day after day.” [sic] says Sharmistha in a grateful tone.
Qualities of a good caregiver
Home attendants like Sunifa are assets to the elderly and their families because they understand what a family is going through and do everything in their capacity to support them and ease their burden.
About the author
Madhumita is a familial caregiver to her mother-in-law who lives with dementia and a full-time mom of a bubbly 3-year-old. She meets and interacts with Life Circle’s clients to understand various aspects of Geriatric care and care needs with the aim of serving our clients in a better way.