Nurse David reveals how missing his dad’s death made him realise you need to be with loved ones at the end

David Obamakin has been a Marie Curie Nurse for three years. He explains why being there for people through terminal illness is such a special experience. 

“I’d actually wanted to be a neurosurgeon as a teenager. In my village a lot of people had spinal injuries due to falling from palm trees! But I became a nurse and really liked it. I came here in the late 1980s and worked in a hospital, then specialised in Forensic Mental Health.

I worked for the NHS for 23 years, practicing talking therapy, which worked well in helping people with mental health issues.

My passion was, and is, giving a high standard of care at all times. A close relative, who is a nurse with Marie Curie, encouraged me to make the switch. They said that my knowledge and skills would benefit the people we care for.

Why I love my work

I love that when I go to work, I’m there for the patients and their families. I always make it known that I am there for both.

I enjoy getting to know the family. They hold your hand and say ‘thank you’ at the end. It’s inexpressible how that feels. It means a lot – it’s a great motivator. It’s a huge privilege to go into people’s homes and help them spend their last moments together.

I was very close to my own dad who I lost in 1985. Not being able to witness his death was very painful. I would have loved to be there with him at the end. I think it’s very special to be with your family when they die.

A person who I cared for recently had a peaceful, loving, happy life. The children surrounded him when he was dying. He was pleased, peaceful – he even prayed for me.

More than just a job

Sometimes you have family who are struggling to cope or worried about pain and comfort. I was looking after a man whose daughter was struggling to cope. I spoke to her every night and was there for her. I’m able to educate people so they understand what’s going on and how to manage it, how to move their loved ones so they are not in pain.

With Marie Curie, my work is my priority and that is what I concentrate on – my knowledge, my skills. It all helps me give my best to the people I care for.

I will work any day of the year. I’ll work Christmas Day joyfully, as I know the person and their family needs me. This job is not based on a job description – it’s much more than that.”

Support the Great Daffodil Appeal this March, and help us care for people living with any terminal illness. Every donation made, every daffodil worn – it all helps nurses like David be there when families them most.