I’ve always been comfortable talking about death and dying with friends and family.
As I’ve grown older and lost people that I’ve dearly loved, I try to encourage others to have these conversations that are often seen as sensitive, difficult or scary.
We only have one chance to get it right and, despite the initial discomfort, talking about death will not make it happen tomorrow.
At HospiceCare we encourage people to make an Advanced Care Plan. This can be an important step towards making sure that the care, support and medical treatment that you or a loved one receives reflects your wishes.
Losing the ability to make decisions for yourself can happen unexpectedly, and thinking about your wishes can take time, so it’s best to begin talking as early as possible.
My mum, who’s 80, and I have open discussions about her wishes about her death, which have got easier the more we talk. Whilst the ‘child’ in me doesn’t ever want my mum to die, I do want to ensure she gets her wishes because I see it as the last physical act of love I can give her.
As for me, my wishes have always been to have my ashes filled with pink sparkles (biodegradable, of course) and released from a microlight aircraft, flying low over the Alnmouth bay at sunset. As they tumble, the sky will be filled with sparkles – my final goodbye gift.
Do let me know if you have planned your own special way of saying goodbye. Perhaps together we can help raise the importance of having that big conversation and removing the taboo of talking about death.
It’s the time of year when I’m writing the next issue of our magazine, Hospice Happenings, due out in April.
In this issue we highlight the work of our Hospice at Home nursing team, covering such subjects as ‘what happens when you first visit a person’s home?’ and ‘do you know when someone is going to die?’ It will offer a frank insight into the work, which currently supports around 100 people every year, as well as their families, carers and all those important to them.
Our fund-raising team is planning our annual Open Garden events, which are held across North Northumberland during June, as well as our annual fashion show at the Duchess’ High School on March 29. They are both popular events, which last year generated around £30,000 towards our clinical services.
You can find details of our Open Gardens, Fashion Show and other fund-raising events at www.hospicecare-nn.org.uk
See you next time. Until then, be kind to yourself.