The terminally ill Regina C. finds help from a professional companion for dying | DW Documentary

The terminally ill Regina C. finds help from a professional companion for dying | DW Documentary

Dying – it’s not an easy conversation for most. Regina Ciriack, who is terminally ill, has a hard time discussing the topic with her family. A professional companion for the dying helps her.

In the beginning, Regina’s primary response was fear. Fear of dying. The Berliner had already dealt with a lot: Lung cancer, a brain tumour. But there is no cure for the lung disease COPD. The alveoli in the lungs are destroyed; the lung capacity decreases; breathlessness and panic attacks follow – and in the end, death. The 67-year-old wants to make the most of her last months, and to make her own decisions on what happens to her and when. Her husband and children support her as much as they can. But Regina also wants a professional death companion at her side. Someone who has already seen what’s in store for her and can take away her fear of death. A report by Sylvia Wassermann.

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Video Transcript

Regina Syriac has a plan she is terminally ill but won’t let her get her down even if the oxygen machines get on her nerves here’s my nif device would you like a demonstration yeah yes please I have to turn that off I need this because it controls my CO2 Levels by a bit

COPD patients like me we can breathe in but not enough of the used up air comes out that’s what makes us feel breathless I have to wear this for at least six hours a night Regina has end-stage COPD and incurable lung disease where the alveoli are destroyed a process that takes years

Regina has only 20 lung capacity and it’s decreasing she can hardly do anything without supplementary oxygen all right yeah as for me well for me it’s always stressful because I’m claustrophobic and when you have something constantly so close to your face unpleasant but vital leave it excuse me but vital yeah

The Voice you hear in the background is Martina bukats Regina’s end of life companion she is part of a voluntary service organized by the malteser international relief organization before Regina the former tax official accompanied more than a dozen people in their dying process when I talk to my children about it they

Leave the room then I say I’m sorry for you a lot of people distance themselves from you how should I deal with it can I laugh with them at all or make a joke with me you can that’s right Regina’s conversations with Martina allay her fear of dying

She’s experienced it close up and I get a sense of what’s in store for me gives me Courage the topic isn’t difficult what’s difficult is what people make of it you can be very relaxed about it we talk about everything that’s not possible with everyone but with Regina it works wonderfully

The two also talk openly about the funeral in an urn in a steal yes the women at the funeral home was saying they’re on the increase yeah what really I’d like to be scattered in the mountains that would be important for me and a big party but not a death party a

Life party all my friends should celebrate life and not death that’s what I’d want it’s become a friendship take care stay healthy say hi to your partner and thanks for everything thanks for coming and I look forward to seeing you again feel hugged bye sweetie Martinez home

She’s looking for a picture of her first husband he’s the reason she works today as a companion to the dying she accompanied him with no support until he died there must no one you could talk to about dying about death or anyone to answer your questions

What happens next what do I have to do what’s it all about it was difficult to find someone and at some point I came across the malteser agency I read about the job and thought yes I’d like to take it on yeah yeah Martina did a nine month training with

The relief agency as a companion for the dying there she learned to keep a professional distance but with Regina that’s not easy it is she’s such a warm-hearted person fully aware of her situation but also so positive she gives me energy I’m baffled about where she gets it from

But it’s so nice it’s a Pity we didn’t get to know each other some other way but the great thing is that we’ve met it all a few weeks later she lives with her husband in an attic flat in Berlin it’s a huge effort to even get out the door

Her husband helps her yes and now I can move the lever here then I have to move to the next step and move the lever again it takes forever for them to make it down the three floors to the bottom Regina can only work short distances

The trip to the bench in front of the house is something special for the 67 year old she’s been married to her husband for 40 years and can rely on him and their two children discussing her death as openly and casually as with Martina is not possible Martina is already waiting in the

Kitchen today the question is whether Regina will soon be going to a hospice a home especially for the dying Indian Island in the nursing homes they say we can’t take on the palliative patients too most of them can’t even pay for such a nursing home anyway that’s the reality

And a palliative hospice is fully covered by the health insurance you know I said if I’m capable of choosing one if I still have some control of my senses wonderful others do Sunday outings and I say let’s go see a hospice that’s right the outing takes place two months later

At the beginning of December welcome are we the first hospice you’re looking at okay this is most possible it has to feel right so I have to see the house and this one’s bright it’s friendly it appeals to me her husband Wolfgang supports her and accompanies her to disappointment though

He’d prefer Regina to stay at home but his wife has a mind of her own and has talked to everything through with her end of life companion but after several discussions also with my Maltese or companion I decided to keep my family out of the foregrounded

I don’t think it’s so great for them to see their mother leave the flat on her own feet okay in Germany the cost for the hospice are covered by the health insurance companies these homes specialize in accompanying dying people around the clock and making the end as easy as possible

That used to be my fear of dying COPD Suffocation but they’ve done away with that fear they said you don’t need to be afraid you’ll be sedated enough and at some point you simply cross over it’s helped me incredibly and I’m counting on it Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over

And Regina is still at home her painkillers have been readjusted and she is feeling a little bit better but the move that a hospice is still Regina’s priority she loves her family but she also wants to think of herself my daughter’s always traveling around the world and she said she no longer

Dared to live her life so that of course put me on high alert and that’s what I said it’s the last thing I want that you don’t live your life everybody knows how it’s going to end with me but I want to have the right when the time comes to leave without

Having to worry about whether or not you’ll get back from the Amazon just in time February and Regina’s condition is still stable she has moved into the living room noise here’s my new nursing bed I’ve changed my location everything’s a bit brighter a bit friendlier I can also have visitors here

On this one everything’s wonderful your husband is just a push of a button away it’s my James Bell the self-employed programmer now works from home so that he can always be reached he’s putting off moving to the hospice for now I’ve actually seen that she can manage

Quite well at home if you help her and then I’d rather have her here than being alone all day and only going to visit her I can also accept that I’m no longer treated as the husband but as James the servant you know yeah you also get pocket money

About two weeks after this visit Regina dies suddenly as gently as she had wished for Martina hears about it on the phone she’d actually been waiting for a message from Regina this debt hits the end of life companion particularly hard I’ve been doing this job for many years

And unfortunately it always ends in death but this experience was still different very different it feels like a friend has died it’s raining on the day of Regina’s farewell party Martina wears a party outfit just as Regina had wished we have Regina weather too it’s the first thing I thought she’s

Happy there’s no son did Regina not like the song no because she couldn’t go outside so she’d say then I don’t want nice weather either if the sunshine in the morning should get up grumpy loud bustling colorful that’s how we agreed it should look and that’s exactly how it turned out

Officially open the party posthumously all my friends should celebrate life and not death that’s important to me foreign Fulfills Regina’s Last Wish she wanted her Ashes to be scattered in the Swiss mountains her daughter svenia who lives in Switzerland organized it so this is what’s done mom’s resting place is here to begin on Mount regi with this wonderful view of Lake Lucerne

We’ve done it all is well and the sun is shining

Video “The terminally ill Regina C. finds help from a professional companion for dying | DW Documentary” was uploaded on 05/15/2023 by DW Documentary Youtube channel.