Palliative care nurse reveals who struggles most with death

Palliative care nurse reveals the one type of person who struggles the most in their dying days – and it relates to thousands of Aussies

  • Palliative care nurse, Maryan Bova, has spoken about how people react to death
  • She explained some people are quick to accept it is near but many struggle
  • Those who struggle often feel ‘ripped off’ especially if they are young 

Maryan Bova has been helping people come to terms with their own mortality for 25 years 

Young people who ‘live a healthy lifestyle’ are most likely to struggle with the idea of death and the process of dying, according to a palliative care nurse.

Maryan Bova has been helping people come to terms with their own mortality for 25 years, and says while some people are quick to accept death is upon them others find it very difficult.

Speaking to Mamamia she said people who ‘feel ripped off’ struggle the most.

‘They’re the ones that have looked after themselves their whole life, for example the yoga teacher who runs retreats and has probably never eaten anything that wasn’t organic and green in their life,’ she said.

‘And yet they’ve been smacked down with a horrible diagnosis. It can feel like a slap in the face.’

These people might push-back at the idea of death or struggle with feelings of bitterness.

While older people are more likely to accept a terminal diagnosis and use the time they have left creating stronger bonds with their families.

Maryan also revealed that some of her patients stories still impact her, especially when their circumstances reflect her own.

The mother-of-three says when she speaks to mum’s facing death, or worse families preparing to lose a child, she feels their pain. 

But sometimes these patients and their families surprise her with their resilience.

She was working with a terminal mother-of-four, her husband and her children when she was touched by their spirit.

Palliative care myths busted: The truth about dying  

Myth: Pain is an inevitable part of dying 

Fact: Pain can be managed through a number of ways. Pain management is a vital part of palliative care to make sure the patient is not suffering from their condition or symptoms. Pain is mainly managed by medicines including morphine. Pain is also managed by helping patients live with their pain. 

Myth: Dying is similar to the movies, where people take a last breath surrounded by family and friends. 

Fact: This may be the situation for some people, but like television representations of births, life is more complex and varied. Dying is different for everyone depending on age, gender, illness and mobility. Unfortunately, not all deaths are peaceful and some people need a lot of physical and emotional support to assist them to die. 

Myth: People in palliative care who stop eating die of starvation. 

Fact: As people deteriorate from advanced illnesses, it is common for hunger and thirst to decline as the body recognises itself that it is coming to end of its’ life. People who stop eating die of their illness not starvation. Hunger is usually absent as death nears, so feeding to prevent hunger is not usually indicated unless the patient desires food. Keeping the mouth moist and comfortable is very important. 

Myth: Palliative care means my doctor has given up and there is no hope for me. 

Fact: Palliative care ensures the best quality of life for those who have been diagnosed with an advanced illness. Hope becomes less about cure and more about living life as fully as possible. 

Source: Palliative Care Australia 

Maryan also revealed that some of her patients stories still impact her, especially when their circumstances reflect her own

She turned up to speak to the mum at home one weekend to find the house ‘buzzing’ with people – helping to fix the house up and entertain the children. 

And the woman’s husband summed up the activity, and his feelings around his wife’s sickness beautifully. 

‘I really wish this wasn’t the circumstance, but had we not been in this situation I would never truly know what love is,’ he said to her.

Maryan believes it is important to look at palliative care and how we treat people in the last stages of their lives. 

Maryan is sharing her story as part of Palliative Care week. 

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