The comfort of a cuddle bed
As Connie Powney and her two children balanced on the end of partner Michael Clarkson’s single hospital bed, she wished it was big enough for them to cuddle up on, like they did at home.
As part of St Wilfrid’s Hospice’s Intimacy and Hospice Care Awareness Week (12th-16th February), Connie is helping to raise awareness of the need for larger beds – known as cuddle beds* – which are big enough to accommodate partners and families.
Michael was just 44 when he died of brain cancer at St Wilfrid’s Hospice. The builder from Seaford went downhill quickly after his diagnosis. He stayed in hospital then went into the hospice for the final week before he died in July last year.
Connie said: ‘I know it sounds rather trivial, but I really struggled not being able to lie down beside Michael in bed. It would have given us all some simple comfort having a cuddle in his final days. At the time, I didn’t think a cuddle bed would exist, or even be practical for a hospice, but it would have meant a lot to the children and me.
‘We were together for 10 years, and as a couple you get used to going to bed every night and being next to each other. It’s a normal part of your relationship. It’s the strangest thing, not to be able to indulge in that very simple human need. It’s a basic comfort at a time when you need it,’ Connie added.
St Wilfrid’s is planning to purchase a cuddle bed for hospice patients, and also open up the conversation around the continued need for cuddling and intimacy during illness.
‘I wanted to breathe in every part of Michael and touch his skin and his hair as I knew that soon I wouldn’t be able to do it ever again. So, it was difficult that the children and I were balanced on the end of the bed, squishing him, and trying not to get caught up in wires and other medical equipment,’ Connie said.
‘We were still a family and we still needed physical contact more than ever.’
Pictured right: Connie and Michael
*A cuddle bed will be on display at the hospice during Intimacy and Hospice Care Awareness Week