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Why I'm running Stratford half marathon for the Shakespeare Hospice



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By Lisa Pennells

THE death of my father is a painful experience that it is difficult to relive, but I cannot imagine how much more painful it would have been had the Shakespeare Hospice nurses not been there for us.

My father, Peter Pennells, 83, had been diagnosed with a rare terminal condition affecting primarily his heart and in the six-month run-up to his death in July 2020 his health declined rapidly.

Lisa and her father, Peter. (54250087)
Lisa and her father, Peter. (54250087)

Since the timing of this decline unfortunately coincided with the country’s first Covid lockdown, my mother, Jean who is in her 80s, had to cope on her own, while my brother and I could provide only words of support long distance from Cambridgeshire and Cornwall by phone and screen.

Just as lockdown was eased and I could finally visit, my father was rushed into hospital and I was again deprived of a chance to see and help him since visiting was not allowed.

The news from the hospital became progressively worse and they suggested they would cease treatment and he could return home for his final days.

My mother and I were finally allowed a brief visit while we waited for the necessary negative Covid test before dad could be discharged. This visit will forever haunt me as he was so disorientated and distressed, and leaving him there until he could return home the next day was one of the most difficult experiences of my life.

The next morning, we finally got him home and the difference was extraordinary – his face lit up with a smile when he was back home in Stratford – where he had lived for more than 40 years - and he visibly relaxed.

Having him home was fantastic but at the same time daunting – my mother and I are not health professionals and needed help with his medical care and a lot of support and reassurance. The Shakespeare Hospice nurses were there to provide this and so much more.

They helped him get comfortable, and with their twice-daily visits took away so much of the stress and the worry, allowing us to enjoy those special moments everyone would wish to have in their final days, sharing happy family memories and letting the love be shown.

They allowed us to give him the goodbye we so desperately wanted him to have.

Of course, they provided medical care, and took away his pain with medication, but also took away his suffering with gentle and sensitive attention to his needs.

In addition to this they also took care of my mum and in a way that I had not expected and will remain eternally grateful for.

As one long day drifted into another, they provided practical and emotional support that was so much needed, but did so quietly and professionally without intruding on our personal space and experience.

These people are incredibly special and it amazes me that that they have the strength to what they do on a daily basis, week after week and year after year.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the work they do and what a critical difference it makes at this most significant stage of people’s lives; their death.

I know it was critical to my father’s experience and to my own experience of losing him and this will impact on me for the rest of my own life. I can only wish others are as lucky as we were in having the support of people like the Shakespeare Hospice team on whatever journey they take either through own final days or through those of their loved ones.

To support Lisa, who will be running with her husband, Andy Veale, click here.

Find out more about the Shakespeare Hospice and its services here.



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