We plan our weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, but many of us don’t plan for what happens when ourselves or a loved one passes away. Recently, organisations across the world have begun to take action to change that and eliminate the discomfort that people feel around this topic.
Dying To Know Day occurs each year on August 8 and aims to bring to light the importance of discussing death with loved ones and friends. Today, Dying To Know Day is holding over 500 events nationwide, including informal community meetups, workshops and conferences to increase awareness of preparing for death.
Kerrie Noonan, director of Dying to Know Day, stresses that it’s never too early to discuss and think about death.
“We need to stop repeating the myth that death is a taboo topic and no-one wants to talk about death. It’s common to think that people don’t want to have end of life conversations or that people will be distressed if you bring it up,” says Noonan.
What’s the purpose of Dying to Know Day?
Dying to Know Day aims to make all Australians death literate. Death literacy is all about understanding how to plan for death when it occurs. Having knowledge about palliative care, having a care plan and knowing your options for memorialising those that have died are the three core aspects of death literacy.
Source: The GroundSwell Project
Preparing for death and bereavement
Dying to Talk has stated that 82 percent of Australians think it’s important to talk to their family about preparing for death, but only 28 percent have done so.
When a loved one starts to receive palliative care and becomes close to death, we often feel overwhelmed and distressed, but with enough discussion, preparation and communication between family and friends, bereavement can be much simpler.
Associate Professor from Western Australia’s Curtin University claims that the subject of death is largely avoided by Western culture.
“We’ll say ‘someone passed away’ or ‘laid to rest’ but we actually use death-related language for other things – such as ‘my phone died’ or ‘my car died’ so initiatives like this are a great way of increasing people’s death literacy and willingness to talk about these issues.”
“We often use a lot of euphemisms when we talk about death perhaps as a way of skirting the issue,” said Dr Breen at a Dying to Talk event.
When to have a conversation about aged care and end of life
There’s never a wrong time to start talking about death and your future. Over 70% of us die in hospitals, while most of us would prefer to die at home, which only displays the lack of communication that families experience when death occurs.
“There are triggers that lead to end of life conversations – most of us have these conversations when we’ve had a health scare,” says Noonan.
“Don’t wait for the crisis, but if one happens, use that to allow yourself to think about what your end of life wishes are,” says Noonan.
Starting a conversation about aged care with your family can be just as difficult as discussing death. If you think it’s time to have a conversation about support with your loved ones and want to ensure a healthy, positive discussion, you might consider using one of these conversation starters.
To get involved in a nationwide discussion about death or learn more about discussing end of life, visit Dying to Know Day.
Having a plan for death is just as important as having a plan for aged care. Mable is a nationwide community of over 2,300 independent support workers – search in your local area to start receiving support tailored to your needs.