Death and dying doesn’t have to be a discussion you only have when someone has died. In fact for some it’s important to air the subject well beforehand. People who feel strongly about donating their organs for instance, often tell those around them to make sure their wishes are carried out. There doesn’t have to be a formal meeting, death can become a subject on any occasion.
Michelle, Liz and Sarah (from left to right) got together and over a drink and cheese scones they talked about dying and the things they feel are important like respect, truth and a quality of life right until the end. They’re keen to help others get discussions going so we asked them to answer two questions in the hope that their thoughts will help others to talk.
We asked; what matters most to you when it comes to death and dying?
“That my funeral plan is followed. It’s all written down and ready.”
“My family know they can do what they feel is right if I am unable to tell them what I want.”
“For those around me to be open about everything.”
“Dignity at all times please.”
“I want to look as much like me in death as in life for my family. No strange hair styles, make-up, etc.”
“If possible to have my loved ones with me or a hand to hold.”
“To have a Christian funeral.”
“Someone to demystify things so I understand what’s likely to happen.”
“To have my affairs in order.”
“To know that everyone knows I love them.”
“A quality of life until the end.”
“High quality care.”
We then asked; when it comes to dying, what should people talk about?
“What scares the people around me about death.”
“Power of Attorney and relevant paperwork.”
“Any potential feelings those around me might experience if I’m dying, like anger or guilt.”
“The process of dying and what happens afterwards in terms of funerals and legal stuff.”
“The dying persons wishes and those of their family. You can then hopefully avoid family and friends making a decision that you wouldn’t have agreed with.”
“People should talk about talking and why it’s important to chat things through.”
“Financial arrangements, making it very clear and answering any questions while you’re still around to explain things.”
“Regularly reviewing your Wills.”
“What other cultures do as some are very much more open about death and even celebrate it.”
To help start your discussions we’ve produced a leaflet about our ‘Pass it on before you pass away’ campaign. It explains how you can make a difference by becoming an organ donor and completing an Advance Decision so others know what you want if you’re seriously ill or dying. You can read about it by following the link below, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a leaflet to be sent to you.