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During Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 18-24), the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging everyone to take the opportunity to talk openly with those closest to them about dying, death and bereavement. This year’s theme is ‘Talk, Plan, Live’ (hashtag #YODO, which stands for You Only Die Once).
‘Talk’ encourages people to talk with their loved ones about sensitive matters. Remember that talking about dying won’t make it happen. You’re taking charge of what happens at the end of your life. It may be easiest to start talking about what you WOULDN’T want rather than what you do. Talk to your family and friends, as well as your doctor or other healthcare professionals.
‘Plan’ urges you to set out the important practical steps you can take to have your end of life wishes met. This includes a lasting power of attorney (i.e. a legal tool that allows you to appoint someone to make certain decisions on your behalf), an advance care plan, a will (Not sure where to start? Try LegalZoom.com (non-affiliate link) and select “Last Will & Testament“), financial plans, funeral wishes, and, if you choose, organ donor registration. Some people decide to leave their body to science. Whatever your decision, make sure to share it with your loved ones.
‘Live’ gives an important reminder that sorting out the details helps you live life to the full with peace of mind. Thinking about dying shouldn’t be seen as defeatist but rather a positive step to ensure that you get what you want from life. Think about what matters most to you in life and set about to do those things that you have always wanted to do.
Additional tips and ideas can be found on the website www.dyingmatters.org.
Corrina Grimes, Allied Health Professions Consultant at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said:
Many of us have specific wishes about how and where we would like to die and what we would like to happen after our death. Sometimes we don’t like to talk about our wishes and thoughts about death and dying, perhaps due to fear of the subject or fear that we may upset our family or friends. However, if we don’t have these types of conversations it can mean that people’s wishes go unfulfilled and families may struggle to make decisions. There may be important matters you want to address now rather than when time feels limited.
Six simple steps that you can take to make your end of life experience better, both for yourself and for your loved ones, are:
- Make a will
- Make a lasting power of attorney
- Record your funeral wishes
- Plan your future care and support
- Register as an organ donor
- Tell your loved ones your wishes
Talking about dying, death and bereavement is in everyone’s interests as it can help ensure that all of us can get the care and support we want, where we want it, at the end of our lives. And it’s never too early to start. Should the ground fall out from under your feet — plan now for a softer landing.