There’s that old saying, that in life, there are only two guarantees: taxes and death. It’s a confronting thought but the reality is that at one point or another, we will all be faced with death, either our own or the death of someone that we love.
Dying to Know Day is the day that we encourage death literacy and begin to build an understanding of the practical necessities needed for end of life planning and care.
Death is a social experience that is shared on so many levels. Family, friends, colleagues, carers, neighbours, the list is endless, the commonality is that each of these different groups of people are drawn together to grieve, to say goodbye and to celebrate the life of someone that made an impact on them, on their lives, and left a legacy that continues well beyond death.
When it comes time to plan for life celebrations, it is a difficult task and often loved ones are left guessing as to the wishes of their dearly departed. This is where Dying to Know comes in.
By lifting the veil and removing the taboo around death, people are able to have open, authentic and courageous conversations to make their wishes known, to plan for their own departure and to have a hand in creating the perfect celebration that will reflect the life and legacy they leave behind.
The problem with our modern society is death does not receive enough visibility and it is still shrouded under a cloak of fear and distress. But we can change that together and bring light to the reality of our situation.
One of the key decisions that people should consider, is where they would like their last breaths to occur. More than 80 percent of Australians consider it important to talk to their family about how they want to be cared for at the end of their lives, but only 28% of Australians have!
We live our lives aligned to our values and beliefs, yet when it comes to death, we fall into the mainstream molds of how we should die. Most people would say that they would prefer to die at home, surrounded by familiarity, the ones the love, their treasured items and an environment that is personal and removed from the clinical process of dying, instead, more often than not, we die in hospitals. The reason this happens, is because we don’t talk enough about death and our wishes.
When it comes to talking about death, the things we should be asking our loved ones are “Where would you like the end of your life?” and “What would you like, what sort of interventions would you like? What sort of things do you not want to happen?” Having answers to these questions helps to remove added stress on family and loved ones when the time comes to make decisions around end of life.
As I write this blog, I’m reminded of a story I read a few years back on social media. It was more than likely some kind of urban legend, but it still resonated with me and made me think about the process of dying.
The story was about an elderly woman who, late one evening, had called a taxi to take her for one last journey before she was taken the next morning to palliative care. The driver had spent the evening with the woman, meter turned off, taking her to all of the places that held special meaning for her from her lifetime and they ended the journey at the waterfront, just in time to see the sun rise over the ocean.
Regardless of the authenticity of this story, the sentiment rings true. We may not be able to spend endless hours travelling around the cities of our lifetimes, but the woman in the story had forward planned and thought out how she would like to spend her last days. She re-lived happiness, tragedy, love and loss and she embraced each of those memories with vigor. To me, this sounded like a wonderful way to begin a departure from this life.
The idea of talking about death is one that might frighten us, it may make us feel uncomfortable and awkward, but they are conversations that need to occur.
A great place to begin these conversations is with a funeral director, start off by planning your funeral or life celebration and work your way backward with family and loved ones. Make your wishes known, clarified and understood and help your family and loved ones by removing the burden of making difficult decisions and choices when the time comes.
Our funeral directors can even assist with some conversation starters and tips on how to have those difficult conversations without the awkwardness and discomfort. Many people don’t realise you can pre-arrange your funeral wishes with an easy to use “My Funeral Plan” and start some of those conversations today.
Happy Dying to Know Day!