Finally the sun appears to have broken cover from behind those dreary winter clouds, and spring is in full swing. The warmth of the sun makes life look just that little bit brighter and more hopeful. People are starting to lift their heads as they walk along and even venture to smile at those they pass as they go about their everyday activities. Strange then you might think for me to be writing about a time that most people would consider to be dark and depressing and best avoided, not thought about and certainly not spoken about. Yes I’m talking about one of life’s taboos…. dying.
May 13th – 19th is Dying Matters Awareness week and the reason I want to highlight this is that dying is too important a part of our lives for us to hide it away at the back of our minds in an attempt to pretend that it will somehow not happen. Well if there’s one thing of which I am certain in this uncertain world it is that I, and those I love and hold dear, will die and I want that to be the best experience it can be for each one of us. Grief is the cost for loving but in my experience it is easier to bear if you feel that you have done everything you can so that the person you love dies with dignity, respect and in a way that honours them and their life.
Can such an important part of our lives be left to chance? How do you and those you care about and love avoid being a statistic in a government inquiry into failing care standards? Well one thing you can do is to take responsibility for it, having conversations with the people we trust to act in our best interests should the need arise. Talk about what is really important to them, their wishes and preferences and do this while they are able to express these things. Doing this will help both you and them to plan for a ‘good death’ and increase the likelihood of achieving one.
Dying Matters Awareness week challenges us to think about dying, what we would like to happen as well as what we wouldn’t want to happen. Dying Matters produces lots of resources to help you have those conversations as well as some thought provoking videos to stimulate conversation. The greatest barrier to talking about dying with others is our own fears and anxieties. The Dying Matters materials will help you to consider these and overcome some of those fears.
Talking to people about the end of their life may be a part of your work and these resources will help you to do this with more confidence too. However, talking to colleagues is also an important part of developing your confidence and competence as you are likely to find you are not alone.
So some thoughts to leave you with this month…
• Tomorrow is a gift not a certainty
• Don’t delay, act today and start having conversations with others about end of life and dying
• Once you’ve done this you can tick it off your ‘To Do’ do list and get on with living each and every day to the full in the knowledge that you’ve taken care of tomorrow.
For more information about Dying Matters Awareness Week, resources and events in your area visit http://www.dyingmatters.org/
Until next time….