There are so many happy things that we plan for in our life, a holiday, a wedding, a new birth but so little time is given to planning our end of life.
9th May sees the start of the annual Dying Matters Awareness week with this year’s message aimed at The BIG Conversation with the strap line of ‘Talking about dying won’t make it happen!’ http://www.dyingmatters.org/sites/default/files/files/BC(1).pdf
In the run up and during this week, social media will become very active and you may become aware of #YODO (You Only Die Once), there will also be interviews on local and national TV to raise the profile and encourage people to think about future planning in a variety of fun and eye catching ways and events.
We would always encourage people to start conversations earlier, when we are in good health and have time to talk, create a bucket list of fun things to see and do, share our wishes with loved ones rather than wait until a life limiting illness determines that The BIG conversation needs to take place sooner.
Key messages we encourage people to think about are:
Over the last couple of years we have held local Death Cafes which have been very well received with some of the questions being taken from real life situations. The name ‘Death Café’ makes some people uncomfortable and we have been asked if the name could be changed but we believe it is the right name to use as it prompts discussion with immediate effect. Imagine if we called it something nice and flowery and people agreed to come and share cake and a cuppa with us, only to find they may be part of an emotional conversation and weren’t prepared for informal chatting about life experiences, death, dying and bereavement.
A year or so ago, I was at a friend’s funeral and the vicar spoke of a conversation that the wife had with her husband, in his last days. His personalised number plate was very special to him, so she asked ‘What do you want me to do with your number plate?’ after a little thought he replied, ‘Put it on your car, that way, when you are travelling anywhere, I will always be with you, as I will be in front and behind you’. That simple conversation was so important and gave her peace and also safety!
There are so many personal things to consider and is it fair to leave it for your family? especially when they will be at a time when such big decisions are to be made when emotions would no doubt play a part in their decision making ability.
Have you considered making an Emotional Will? This is something that is personal about you and something you may want to be remembered by; your favourite book, favourite film, favourite song, a recipe that has been passed to you from a family member or a story that can be retold as a ‘Remember When’ moment - a legacy is not always a material or financial gift.
Have you thought about making a ‘Bucket List’? When we speak with adults and children we often ask them to note:
The dimension of answers is always interesting but Love, Family & Friends top the table!
What about the music for your funeral? Do you have a favourite song or piece of music you would like played at your remembrance or funeral service? Or a verse you would like to be read?
Importance of Condolence cards - When someone dies, it can be important to bereaved families to know the impact that their mother, father, daughter, son or friend had had on another person; like how they met, what gave them the friendship they shared or how the ‘finger print on their heart’ left its mark.
For me personally, I treasure and am very grateful for the cards I have received at such sad times and also the time that people took to share their story.
The 14th May marks the end of Dying Matters Awareness Week when we will be holding a Family Race Night at St Andrews Hospice. In the past we have held a similar event which was very well received and is back by popular demand. The event is for all the family with very subtle and thought provoking connections to planning ahead. If you would like to find out more, attend, buy a horse or sponsor a Race please contact Tracey Parkinson on (01472) 571257 or follow the link http://www.standrewshospice.com/news-events/upcoming-events/racenight.aspx
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