The theme of this year’s Dying Matters Coalition Awareness Week (16 to 22 May) is ‘Why Dying Matters to me’ which is as good as any to get people to address the taboo surrounding death.
I fully support the aims of Dying Matters, a broad coalition headed by the National Council for Palliative Care, to raise awareness of death, dying and bereavement. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since My Last Song was established in the belief that more people would address their mortality on line, and use My Last Song to ‘Go out on a high note.’
I take heart in the increasing signs that society is more ready to address the subject of death in a positive way. This, I think, is because people are living longer and therefore most deaths don’t cause the terrible grieving such as Queen Victoria’s reaction to the early passing of her beloved Prince Albert.
So, does the ending of a long and fulfilled life mean that death is easier to address? Is it also easier to accept given a medical diagnosis of a terminal illness that allows time to come to terms with a life that will end?
For many people the thought of discussing the end of life causes distress, anxiety and embarrassment, and they want to put it off. However, as Dying Matters understands, if you face the subject from a more informed and positive approach, the negatives are reduced.
My Last Song has produced an innovative and holistic ‘Death Plan’ template to encourage discussion about a person’s last days alive so that they have a ‘good death’. The issues that are covered include medical treatment, physical comfort, emotional and spiritual needs and ways in which stress and fear can be reduced.
The questions are designed to involve the person’s doctor, close family and friends and even professional advisers so that the person whose life is ending has no concerns about issues, such as their will or who looks after their pets, that should have been resolved.
I hope that all those who support Dying Matters and who will use this week to raise awareness will also see the benefits of promoting personalised death plans as a way of reducing the fear of dying and increasing our control over how we end our lives.