What mum wanted

A daughter reflects on her mum’s final act of love

Within minutes of my mother’s grim cancer prognosis I felt a seismic shift. I was going to become the primary carer of the woman who had always taken care of me, my mother. It was going to be a long road and many tough decisions would need to be made. How long was she willing to undergo treatment? When was enough, enough? How would we deal with the end? What did mum want?

We never stopped hoping for a miracle that might save her, but planned for the more likely. Over the years there had been many light-hearted quips about what song mum would like played at her funeral, I knew she wanted to be cremated and it was a running joke that her organs were no good, though we joked that anyone was welcome to them. But there were many other variables we hadn’t discussed until the end was near.

I was made medical power of attorney (substitute decision-maker), a responsibility I was uncomfortable with until we had the conversation that so many fear having. Her wishes were simple but clear, some I already knew and others I would never have expected.

‘If I have no quality of life I don’t want to live. I want to die at home. I don’t want visitors and I want it to be quick’.

Talking about dying didn’t make the reality of losing her any less heartbreaking but I will always be grateful that our grief wasn’t compounded by the anguish of trying to guess what mum might have wanted in life or in death. Preparing herself and our family was her final act of love.

‘If I have no quality of life I don’t want to live. I want to die at home. I don’t want visitors and I want it to be quick’.

Kellie Curtain is a National Advance Care Planning Week ambassador. She is an experienced media professional and author of the memoir, ‘What will I wear to your funeral’.

Advance care planning requirements differ across Australia. Be sure to refer to the advance care planning forms and documentation relevant to your state or territory.