Former magistrate Michèle Bernard-Requin, who died of cancer on December 14, had been in palliative care in Paris at the Sainte Perrine Hospital.
In an article published in Le Point, a few days before she died, she paid tribute to the palliative care staff, referring to the palliative care hospital as “an island” and mentioning that her relatives were also considering this care unit for their own end-of-life care. She was also thankful to the caregivers for their attentive service and their genuine empathetic listening, for which they receive a salary judged to be insufficient.
As an ultimate request, in her last letter, she spoke of how this attentive staff is overworked, the demanding physical work for providing such care, and the long overtime hours. “We shouldn’t have a quota on the number of hours. We should foster these smiles, these caring arms to massage the patient’s neck and relieve the pain of metastasis rubbing against the shoulder. This must be maintained. I’m not sure how to express it, but palliative care should not be reserved for a few privileged persons. Rather it should be offered on an ordinary basis for everyone.”
Michèle Bernard-Requin had previously held positions as a lawyer, as a prosecutor, as vice-president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, where she presided over the 10th Correctional Chamber of Paris, then General Counsel at Fort de France, before her retirement in 2009.