Preparing for the end

Sadly for all too many patients of Pancreatic Cancer the worst comes all too soon. The following are things learned in those times leading up to Avner’s passing and the weeks after.

Passing away at Home

Until 2 weeks prior to Avner’s passing, his wish was to pass away peacefully at home. In the end the pain could not be relieved or managed at home and he went into hospital.

We both felt happier that he was in hospital, seeing his oncologist and palliative care doctors every day. The pain changed and spread on a daily basis and the palliative care doctor was able to react and adjust the medication each day.

If your loved one wishes to pass away at home please consider speaking to your palliative care doctor about how frequently they can come, after hours care, changing medication etc.

The Funeral

Avner did not want a religious service so the below tips are probably only relevant to people wanting the same.

  • Celebrant – We did not use a celebrant, as I did not want someone who had never met Avner officiating at his service. Instead a good friend carried out the role. We did speak to a celebrant to get ideas on managing the time etc, but that was the end of their involvement.
  • Check the details – double-check the details recorded by the funeral director, we did and found there were some mistakes made.
  • Slideshow of photos - During the service, we had a slideshow of photos of Avner and photo’s taken by Avner (he was a keen photographer). It was a very special part of the funeral.
  • Record the service – Not all of Avner’s and my family and friends could make it to the funeral so we recorded the service and sent copies onto them. I also gave copies to close friends and family who did attend. It may not be to everyone’s taste to record a funeral service, but I am so very happy that I have a copy of it.
  • Cremation – Avner’s wish was to be cremated, it was also my wish so that I could have the comfort of having him close by. The funeral director informed us that family members must consent to the cremation. It was not something that we had considered and luckily Avner’s family were supportive of it. If this is your loved one’s wish then perhaps he/she should notify family prior to his/her passing so that his/her wishes can be respected.

Financial Matters

Banking

  • Accounts that are in the sole name of the person who has passed away will be frozen, once the bank has been notified of his/her passing.
  • Accounts that are in joint names will not be frozen so can continue to be used. There is one exception – credit cards that are in joint names. If the primary card holder passes away, the account will be closed and the surviving spouse will no longer have visible access online to the history of the account. This is frustrating and something I found difficult to accept. It may be worthwhile checking with the bank if the primary and secondary card holder can be swapped around.

Frequent Flyer points

  • Most airlines cancel any frequent flyer points and close the account once they have been informed of a customers passing. One way of making sure the points don’t go to waste, is to do a transfer to family members prior to the passing.