Friday, October 14, 2011
Talking About Death Won't Kill You
It turned out that talking about death didn't kill anyone. A couple of evenings ago 30 people came together for our seminar on end of life issues. I really appreciated working with Dr. Deb Jefferson who in addition to her practice in Newcastle works in palliative care at Bowmanville hospital. She helped clarify some of the mysteries about dying and the importance of accepting the reality of death so that we and our loved ones can be honest and open as the end approaches.
Afterward one person told me she wished she had attended something like this a decade ago. She has gone through the death of her mother and her husband and in both instances a loving family was so focussed on recovery they missed some of the opportunities for meaningful goodbyes and the comfort of palliative care. In our discussion time another participant admitted that she doesn't talk about death because then maybe it just won't happen. We're probably all like that to a degree.
During the evening we distributed and looked at an Advance Care Plan, something we should all consider http://www.advancecareplanning.ca/media/8359/advance_care_plan_my_voice.pdf Another person noted that her Living Will is part of her legal will, which means it won't be read until after her death, so what good is it then. Excellent point! Families need to know a loved one's wishes in the present, not after they are gone.
I began the evening with the passage in John 14 where Jesus says farewell to his followers at the meal table. This has become such an iconic passage we might miss the simplicity of a conversation over food about an impending death. These are conversations we all need with family, physician, clergy.
Did you attend? Have you considered the process of dying, not just the moment and the funeral?
Do you have an Advance Care Plan? Will you be there for the Funeral Planning evening next week?