“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it”
Why we need to talk...
Talking about death is about planning for life, helping us make the most of the time that we have.
It helps you and your loved ones to be prepared: able to cope better with both the emotional and practical experiences around death.
For many people, it is very empowering to share their wishes and plans. It is our right to be able to choose.
It can give peace of mind and sometimes brings a sense of relief just to be able to have an open conversation.
For loved ones left behind, it is comforting to be able to honour the wishes of someone’s desires. It might also make things easier, when you're gone.
But now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more essential to talk about death.
Still need convincing? Here are some interesting articles to make you think...
How to start talking...
Some gentle hints over a period of time can help to start a conversation.
Once you are start you will feel more confident, then there is help to talk in more detail, as well as to record your wishes. Find these tools here.
Sometimes watching a film, or hearing a favourite piece of music can trigger thoughts and enable you to bring them up in a light conversation.
Or, sometimes someone else provides you with inspiration, or helps you to use the right words...
Music can be a fantastic way to approach the conversation, even if it's just discussing pieces of music that are special to you, that you would like to be remembered by.
It may be the death of someone you know, their funeral, or the fear of the current COVID-19 Pandemic, that has made you think. There might be positive or negative thoughts.
Either way, grab the opportunity and open up the conversation.
Need some help?
Try playing Question Cards. Marie Curie has produced an online resource here – but a pack of cards can be ordered from them too.
Compassion In Dying also has a useful booklet to help you start the conversation.
What to cover...
There are lots of things that could and probably should be discussed, but it’s OK to just cover some... especially if these conversations are new to you and feel difficult.
There are many different ways to do this, there are no rules.
Sometimes taking a leap of faith to start a conversation brings a positively surprising response and you are likely to feel more and more at ease and comfortable.
When opportunities arise and the time feels right, you could jot your thoughts down in a notebook- even if it's a simple comment regarding cremation or burial.
Or, you might want to think about it in this more structured way:
Choices regarding your end of life might include:
The type of care you’d like towards the end of your life and where you would like to die- these can be recorded as an Advance Statement.
How much active treatment you want and in what circumstances- these can be recorded as an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment or a Living Will. If this is signed and witnessed, it is legally binding.
Whether you wish to refuse an attempt to be resuscitated based upon your health and well-being and your personal values, this is a Do Not Attempt To Resuscitate Order. Although ultimately a medical decision, it is important that you consider your wishes.
Appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your health and welfare or your property and financial affairs.
Your worries, fears and questions about being ill and dying: sometimes this is best addressed by your medical or care professional, but sometimes it just good to share these thoughts with family, friends and carers and/or a Compassionate Companion.
Saying or writing down things that matter to those that matter to you, in a way that works for you. For some, this would be dealing with 'unfinished business', like resolving family tensions. This could be a letter, a poem, a song, a picture, an audio recording or a video. It might contain your feelings about a loved one, a review of your life or simply depict how you envisage your end of life.
Choices regarding what happens after you die, including:
Organ donation – Things are changing from 20 May 2020 and you will need to opt out if you do not wish to donate your organs.
Your will, including care of dependents, children or parents, or pets.
Your digital legacy
Our Resources page has all of the resources you need to record your wishes, including Advance Statements, a Living Will, or your funeral plans.