‘You are not alone’: Bereaved family members find comfort through compassionate community

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

In the city of Narayanganj, Bangladesh, a project is underway to show how compassionate palliative care alleviates suffering, positively impacts people’s quality of life and is a cost effective and ethical imperative of a health system.

Start of the project mid-2018, the family members of 39 deceased patients have been provided with bereavement support.

On 21st September, 2019, an interactive meeting was held with 22 bereaved family caregivers of 14 deceased patients. Caregivers shared their experience and feelings walking through the last days with their beloved ones.

The meeting was initiated with participants being introduced to one another. Each person shared  about the sufferings of their love one at the end of life, how they came under the service of ‘Compassionate Narayanganj’ and how they benefitted from the service to a varying extent.

“My wife seemed to die within few days but survived for a month because of Compassionate Narayanganj,” one participant said.

The bereaved family members highly appreciated the service and noted that they wished it would have been available sooner to reduce suffering earlier by building community with others sharing the similar experiences.

“You are not alone”, was the message caregivers received, according to research assistant, Shafiquejjaman Saikot.

“It was a moment of great sadness. Most of them were sobbing, some burst into tears while recollecting the memories. They shared about their grief and coping mechanisms,” Mr Saikot said.

Caregivers noted how, when their loved ones who appeared to be neglected and abandoned were counting their final days through pain and unbearable suffering, the project team stood beside them with compassionate care. They spoke highly of the services provided by doctors, nurses and palliative care assistants of this project with gratitude.

Most of these care providers were as close to the heart of their patients as to their own children, one participant noted.

All the participants welcomed this sort of interactive meeting which was a new experience and requested for more to be held in future. Everyone expressed their outmost desire to remain as part of this family and a number expressed interest in continued involved in this project through volunteer service.

“Compassionate Narayanganj” is a pilot project funded by UKAid Direct, a unique collaboration between Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), the Worldwide Hospice & Palliative Care Alliances (WHPCA) and the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) to ensure the availability of palliative care services throughout the country.