Kevin explores the questions of life, death and faith in his final weeksNovember 2, 2022
“My husband, in his prime, was a 6 ft 2, rugby playing, cricket playing sportsman,” says Patricia reflecting on the life of her beloved husband, Kevin who passed away in May. “So, when Peter – a strong man of deep faith – accompanied Kevin in his final weeks, he was exactly what he needed.”
Through CatholicCare’s Hospital Chaplaincy program, Peter was able to talk to Kevin and pray with him during his final weeks of life at Gosford Hospital.
When Peter first visited Kevin three weeks before his death, “he was extremely ill, but wanting to connect,” Peter says. Kevin was a 73 year old cancer patient, who was referred to Peter by the local Catholic Parish. “Kevin was wanting to connect with someone outside his inner circle of family and friends to explore the questions of life, death and faith that had been thrust upon him because of this horrible disease,” Peter says.
Kevin’s wife, Patricia visited him in hospital every day, and in the last week slept beside him on a pull-out bed. “After Peter’s first visit, Kevin told me that he had been, and his words were that Peter ‘was a good man’,” Patricia says. “Three days before Kevin died, Peter visited at a time that my daughter Sally and I were both there. Sally lives interstate and she was quite shocked to see her father so ill. She hadn’t realised how much he had changed.” Peter’s visit was a great source of comfort and strength, not only for Kevin but for the family.
During this visit, Kevin was no longer speaking but he was able to hear and understand what was going on around him. Peter stood quietly at the end of the bed and listened to what Patricia and Sally were saying to Kevin. “At some point I told Kevin, ‘Peter is here’, and he looked straight ahead and saw Peter,” Patricia says. “I motioned Peter forward, and he came forward and held Kevin’s hand. What was so great was that he held Kevin’s hand well and firmly. Kevin had deteriorated very much with the cancer, but in his prime he was tall and built well. He really appreciated somebody like Peter who was strong and listened.”
In Kevin’s final hours, his Parish Priest was called to bring him Communion and to administer the Sacrament of Anointing. After his death, Peter was able to support Patricia with advice about Kevin’s funeral arrangements. Peter also attended the funeral, which he describes as “a beautiful tribute to a wonderful life, well lived.”
Peter describes it as “a particular privilege to accompany a patient, and their loved ones, on an ‘end of life’ journey.” For Patricia, she also saw it as a privilege to have Peter accompany them through these precious days and weeks. “Peter was quiet, and never preached,” Patricia says, “I valued his input greatly.”
For more information about our Hospital Chaplaincy & Pastoral Care services call 1800 324 924 or visit www.catholiccaredbb.org.au.