Daughter pays tribute to Marie Curie nurse Barbara Sage who died after contracting coronavirus

19 April 2020, 09:58

Tributes have been paid to Barbara Sage
Tributes have been paid to Barbara Sage. Picture: Marie Curie

By Asher McShane

Tributes have been paid to a member of the Marie Curie nursing team who has died after contracting coronavirus.

Barbara Sage, 68 was described by her daughter Donna as "kind and caring and fun.

“She loved life, her family, her grandkids and she loved her job," she said.

Ms Sage, from Bromley in south London, died in intensive care last Sunday after spending more than 40 years working in palliative care.

She was a Marie Curie nurse for 14 years, providing vital care and support on the front line to dying patients in the community.

“Mum started out as an ambulance driver in London when she was 18. It was that which made her want to become a nurse.”

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“She was a very warm person… I suppose she had all the normal attributes of a Marie Curie Nurse. I guess you have to be like that in their line of work, don't you? She was dedicated to caring for people.”

“Mum always said her job wasn't about the getting paid, it was about being there for people when they need it,” says Donna. “It was about being caring and kind and giving people your time.”

“She wouldn't just get up and leave at the end of her shift. She'd stay on to support the families or wait for the coroner if needs be.”

“Because Mum had been there when people had taken their last breaths and laid out so many bodies, she wasn't afraid of death,” says Donna.

“That’s something I take comfort from right now. She used to say to me that life was like a lightbulb, one minute it's there, and then ping, it goes, it's still hot but the light starts to fade away. That's how she described being there with someone in their last moments.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie, said: "Barbara was a beautiful person. She was kind, generous, giving, fun.

"Mother, of course, grandmother, aunt, partner, and our hearts just go out to her family and those who loved her the most.

"This is a tragic loss of a member of the Marie Curie family as well, and has hit the whole Mary Curie family really hard this week.

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"It's a very, very, very special kind of person who becomes a Mary Curie nurse or doctor. These people, every day and every night, being with families who are experiencing the loss of a loved one.

"Sitting with people who are dying, caring for them, loving them, holding their hand, holding their hand physically, caring for them, but also holding their hand emotionally, and after people have breathed their last, being there to hold the family and to care for them as well.

"Barbara had an absolute passion for this work.

"It was a real, real deep, deep pain for her family, that Barbara had been there to hold the hands of so many people as they had died, that they weren't able to be there to hold her hand as she died, and to hug her and to hold her and just be with her.”

"And in due course we'll try and find a way in which we can have a way to mark Barbara's death with her family and with the whole organisation.

"Just holding people. It's such an example of really what Marie Curie does every day and night and is sort of stepping up to do even more so at the moment in the Covid-19 emergency of trying to hold the nation, to be there, to hold the nation's hand."

He said it is not known whether Ms Sage contracted Covid-19 in the course of her work.