Thanks to the amazing generosity of Mercy supporters, Jill Bonniface and her immediate family were cared for at home by Mercy’s Community Palliative Care (CPC) team between 2021-2023. Heartfelt thanks to Jill’s daughter, Clare, for agreeing to share her personal memories with our supporters today.

Diagnosed with a brain tumour during COVID-19 lockdowns, Jill had to rely on her husband for full-time care, and when they were able to, sons Ryan and Sean. Frustratingly for Clare, due to border closures and being Melbourne-based, she couldn’t be with her family for quite some time. So it meant the world to Clare when she finally crossed the Tasman and found practical ways to help during Jill’s final week.

“Helping Mom feel more comfortable in her last days was really important as it was something practical I could do so that Dad, Ryan or Sean didn’t have to. This gave them the chance to just spend time with Mom. It felt really special looking after the person who’s looked after me for so many years. I had such a strong bond with my Mom, so looking after her during such a time of need was a real privilege.”

And there were added benefits when Clare learned how to administer pain management and operate the syringe driver thanks to Mercy CPC nurses, Claire and Corinne.

“The fact that Corinne and Claire knew I’d be able to administer pain relief (something I thought I’d never be able to do!) formed a trust between us and made me know we were in safe hands. Thank you so much for teaching me and trusting I was capable to do so.”

In her final week, Jill found it increasingly difficult to communicate, which became a source of some distress for Clare. Again, she found Mercy’s support emotionally supportive and practical:

“Corinne spent time explaining with such care and compassion what might happen in the coming days. This provided us with the chance to ask questions and let us know what support there was through Mercy if we wanted to speak with anyone.”  

For many people facing this stage, events can happen so quickly, and conditions decline so rapidly that they often feel unprepared and in a state of shock or disbelief:

“Mom was always so incredibly positive about life, but this was quite a sudden decline. I just expected her to continue as she had been, which may have been naive, but that’s because I had such a positive woman influencing me my whole life.”

The impact of such change can be far-reaching. From the subtle and not so subtle changes to relationships and personalities, to more obvious disruptions to everyday life:

“Having the support of Mercy during such a life changing event made it easier to cope with everything that was going on. I think when you’re going through something so tragic you don’t always know what you need, so having Mercy there to guide us made day to day life during this period more manageable.”

On July 24, 2023, Jill Bonniface, beloved wife and mother of three passed away peacefully at home.

To Clare and all our supporters whose ongoing compassion and support enables everyday Aucklanders to experience the gift of time and care with their loved ones, thank you. It’s your generosity that makes all of this possible.

“Losing Mom is the most devastating thing I’ve ever experienced, but the fact I can look back on her last week with us and feel a sense of calm and gratitude speaks volumes about the care Mercy provided.”

On a final note, it was so wonderful to hear that Clare’s brother, Sean ran his first ever marathon for Mercy in 2023 and raised just over $10,000! This year, Clare, Ryan and Sean will all be running in the half marathon. Go team Bonniface!

“We’re so glad to be able to give back to Mercy this way so you can continue to help wonderful people like my Mom, and their families. You are all truly amazing and so appreciated. Your support will not be forgotten, thank you very much.”

Share this Mercy Story

Do you have a Mercy story you would like to share with readers of Mercy Matters?

Send your story and images to [email protected].

Continue the Care. Click here to make a safe online donation to Mercy Hospice