Hospices not only care for the terminally ill but help families cope with the loss of a loved one, during illness and through bereavement.
Together with Mercy, a palliative care nurse from Nairobi Hospice, we visited Ken, a young man who has just lost his mother Jane to breast cancer. Ken lived near to his mother in Kayole, one of the poorer and crowded estates of Nairobi.
Jane was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 but responded well to treatment and recovered. In 2018 the cancer recurred, and she was told the cancer had spread to the lungs.
Ken is a musician and dancer and teaches music to children. He worked hard to care for his mother whilst working to maintain his small income. Ken was his mother’s primary carer during her illness and Mercy was worried about how he would be coping with his loss. Ken and his brother were completely unprepared for her death. Jane’s doctors had not been honest about her outlook and Ken and his brother had continued to believe that she would recover. They did not contact the hospice until the day before she died when Mercy promptly paid them a visit.
She gave medicines to Jane to make her more comfortable and counselled Ken over his mother’s condition. Jane developed breathing difficulties and died at home the next day, so we accompanied Mercy on a second visit to Ken. He was worried that something he had done during her care had caused her death. Mercy was able to provide comfort and reassurance that he had cared for her well and done everything correctly. Mercy will continue to visit Ken and his family to help them to come to terms with their loss.