Talking about death

We live in a very death phobic society. We hear about life saving medical revolutions, but they are not life saving, they are death postponing and there is a big difference.

Years ago, when someone died, they would be laid out for mourners to come and pay their respects, but these days we don’t do that any more, it has been made much more clinical. Death is no longer a part of life within society.

If you asked most people how they want to die, if you can get them to talk about it, they will usually say in bed at home (or in their 80’s in bed with their 8th spouse, who is in their late 20s!!). That’s not where most people die.

We are all going to die. We can use face creams and surgery to hold back time, we can exercise and eat well, but nothing can hold back death forever.

It is therefore worthwhile going through the uncomfortable conversation with those around you about what you want to happen. It is a difficult conversation as children often don’t want to discuss it, as they don’t want to think about the death of their parent.

I often describe a Will or Power of Attorney as a plan. Talking about death and planning really is a plan in the commonly understood sense. Death is always devastating to those left behind. Even if the survivors didn’t get on well, it ends the nature of the relationship; it ends the possibility of a change in the nature of your relationship. In one sense the relationship never ends, whilst there are those left who remember the deceased, but is has changed forever.

For those left behind, the memories that they have of the death of a loved one can be key. It is important that they feel that they have achieved for the deceased the best possible death, where everything has been done and everything has been said that could have been and should have been.

The survivors will have a good feeling and it will help in the process of grieving, but it all starts with a conversation.