When my ex-partner Ian was diagnosed with COPD 10 years ago, it came as a huge shock and I wanted to do all I could. Discovering Violet’s guided support program helped me persevere through the challenges of caring for Ian and managing my own wellbeing, especially in the terminal stage of his illness.
Ian and I met when we were very young and decided to move to Australia, where we had our son Thomas. Although we eventually separated, we both wanted to be good parents and spend time with Tom, so we stayed friends and supported one another.
When Ian told me about his diagnosis, I was devastated. Ian came and lived with me and, at first, we both worked. But as Ian’s health declined, I couldn’t leave him home alone, so I had to become his full-time caregiver.
Ian was adamant he wanted to die at home with Thomas and me. The most important thing I could do as a caregiver was make sure his wish was honoured. It was a beautiful thing we could do for him. It was a creative time. I wanted to involve him in my creative world as much as I could to take him away from some of his pain. We were giving love and Ian was giving us love.
He would often talk to me about the process of end of life. We would share emotions, we would laugh, we would cry, and we got raw about what we were both going to go through.
We got help from the palliative care team and set the lounge room up so we could care for Ian’s needs and be around him as much as possible. A GP came every fortnight, and I couldn't have done things as well as I did without his guidance.
The last five months of palliative care were precious. We would have good chats, we would cry, and we'd think of silly old stories that would make us laugh, but it was all beautiful. I’m an artist, and Ian would talk to me about some of his dreams and we'd put them on the canvas. I wanted to involve him in my creative world as much as I could. I hoped it would take him away from some of his pain.
I felt compelled to be the best caregiver I could be. It was like the warrior inside me took over because so many things needed to be put in place, medically and financially. I felt like I needed to step up and make them happen so Ian's life was better. My motto was to never give up, but I did have a lot of challenges. I was also dealing with my own emotions.
How Violet changed my life
I learned about the Violet Initiative when I was accessing super funds for Ian. Talking to a Violet Guide really did change my life. At that time, things were moving very quickly, and I wasn't getting much respite. I was tired. I'd given so much to everyone else that I hadn't thought of me. Getting support from a Violet Guide helped me check in with how I felt.
My Violet Guide helped me look at my own thought processes and see what I had left to do, because the end of Ian's life was coming. This helped make me a better caregiver, so it was a relief for me.
She was caring and compassionate and knew what I was going through. The opportunity to talk separately without feeling like I was burdening my family was a relief because it's such a delicate, fragile time. I felt the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders.
She also directed me to Violet’s resources, which were educational, informative and done in taste. Thomas and I watched a video, which helped us understand things to look out for and feel better equipped for the stages we had to go through.
What matters most
What matters most at the end of life are our relationships, our friendships, the people we're around. It's about giving people dignity. Death and dying isn’t often spoken about and we all like to hide away from it, but there's help out there.
It's very important at the end stage of life to better prepare yourself for the journey so you can honour your loved one’s wishes and find the strength to do all you need to. It’s also important to look after your own wellbeing. I would recommend anyone reach out to Violet and have the same wonderful experience I did because it helped me through such a difficult journey.