Dying Matters the Big Conversation

Dying Matters the Big Conversation main image

You may not have heard of Dying Matters, they are an organisation that aims to raise awareness about the importance of talking openly about dying, death and bereavement and of planning ahead. 

Over50choices is in full support of this, having campaigned for last few years to encourage people to talk to their loved ones about their final wishes and put plans in place to help avoid the emotional and financial heartache too many families face. 

Every year Dying Matters has an awareness week to encourage more people to spread the word, this year the campaign starts on 9th May 2016 and you see more of the activities here on their website.

One of the best quotes from Dying Matters that really struck me is;

"Talking about dying won't make it happen, any more than talking about sex won't make you pregnant". 

So that being the case, why do so many people find it so difficult? 

Here are some interesting facts....... 

72% of people in  the UK believe that it's uncomfortable to talk about death, dying and bereavement

65% of people don't have a Will in place 

32% of people have registered as an organ donor

73% of people haven't talked to someone about their funeral wishes

Only 7% have written down their wishes about their future care, should they be unable to make decisions for them selves 

So it appears that it’s official; when it comes to matters of later life and death, as a nation we do an amazing impression of an ostrich and bury our heads in the sand. 

Here are our tips for making a difference

When you sit down and really think about the consequences of doing nothing, it suddenly hits you what an important part of life ‘planning for death’ should be. You only have to speak to families distraught as they don’t have the funds for a funeral or struggling to sort their parent’s finances out as they don’t have Power of Attorney to understand what a kind thing planning for later life can be.

So what can you do about it and how do you get started? Here’s a few points to help you on the right path:

1. Don't wait for your parents or loved ones to talk to you about it; you can instigate the big conversation. It's often the case that we wait for our parents or elderly relatives to talk to us about it as they are the ones nearer the end of their lives, but you can make this easier for them by opening the conversation. 

2. It doesn't have to be a sad or morbid discussion. We find through our discussions with helping people pre-arrange their funerals that the majority see it as a positive thing to do. Helping their families by taking away the emotional stress of arranging their funeral when the time comes and also removing the financial burden. 

3. You don't have to be old to start the conversation. Unfortunately, many people will become ill or lose their lives as a result of a fatal accident at any age. We suggest that anyone taking out life insurance or financial planning should use this as the tipping point to "start the big conversation" with their loved ones. 

4.  When arranging a prepaid funeral plan for themselves, we occasionally have customers whose partner will not set up a plan as they believe that they are "tempting fate". This is of course irrational, in the same way that the fear of flying will not make the plane crash (another very real fear of mine!). A difficult one to overcome other than to keep the big conversation alive with little conversations, at the right times. 

5. Think of the end game - once it's done it's done! Take a deep breath and get those words out, you will be surprised how good you feel after you have had the conversation and of course don't forget to "do something about it" - write it down somewhere safe or make that Will, pre-arrange that funeral (you can do this at any age) or sort the Lasting Power of Attorney out. 

Then you can relax, forget about it and get on with your life! 

The Dying Matters Big Conversation Week starts on 9th May, but anytime is a good time to start the conversation, no matter how big or small it is. Visit the Dying Matters site for more information. 

Dying Matters was set up by the National Council for Palliative Care, the umbrella charity for all those involved in palliative care, to support the 2008 End of Life Care Strategy 

Dying Matters currently has 32,000 members ranging from health and care organisations, funeral directors, legal and financial organisations and thousands of individual members

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