How to talk about death
Sometimes when I give my talks, I ask people to put their hand up if they believe they are immortal. Of course, nobody does. And then I ask people to put their hand up if they are comfortable with the fact they aren’t immortal. The results vary.
And then I ask people to put their hand up if they have made funeral arrangements, or talked about end of life plans, or even made a will. Around 50% admit to not having done so.
This reflects the western attitude to death completely. We know it’s coming, but we shut it away. We prefer not to talk about it. We still refer to it in hushed tones, as if it will never happen. And then we act surprised when somebody of 85 dies – because, quite simply – we’re not prepared for it.
One charity that aims to make a difference is Dying Matters www.dyingmatters.org This charity was formed back in 2009 by the National Council For Palliative Care. Their aims are many, including:
- Working with public health care providers for better attitudes and facilities
Helping people have the conversations that matter
Ensuring that terminally-ill people get the best death possible
Teaching people how to talk to children about death – and even providing lesson plans for schools who wish to mention it within the curriculum.
Helping people cope with grief. And facilitating others to deal with embarrassment, shyness or discomfort, especially when dealing with someone grieving.
Provision of leaflets and materials for many uses.
Allowing people to put their affairs in order, for peace of mind for everyone
Providing information and practical help for carers
Stationery and cards with a difference to send to people who are bereaved
It’s a wonderful charity, full of news and information and practical help. And this year, as in the past, they will be highlighting their work with a series of events around the country as part of DYING AWARENESS WEEK.
From funeral directors to hospices and everything inbetween, there will be activities happening in order to educate and help us deal better with death. These activities will include professionals and members of the public, and anyone can get involved.
For my part, I’m working with a group of celebrants on one particular day in an open forum at a funeral director’s. And a second event at a hospice where I’ll be giving a talk about the work of a celebrant.
It’s fascinating work, meeting wonderful people. I’m looking forward to seeing new faces and old friends.
And the more we talk, the easier it gets...............