At Kilbryde Hospice next week we celebrate Death Awareness Week from Monday 9th May to Sunday 15th. Death Awareness week is an opportunity to place the importance of talking about death, dying and bereavement firmly on the national agenda.
It is perhaps one of the most important, if not the most important, event in life that we really should have at the very least sat and thought about. However most people, for whatever reason, will usually dismiss the need to discuss death or give the issue very little thought; perhaps it’s because they don’t like to think about their own mortality or maybe they think there will always be plenty of time and they will get it done eventually.
I have to admit speaking about death has never been a difficult subject for me. My Mum is a Palliative Care Specialist and has always been a great believer in speaking openly about death, dying and having that important conversation with loved ones surrounding your wishes. After someone close to us died in horrific circumstances and at a very young age we were sitting in the living room and began to discuss what we would like our funeral services to be. The shock of someone dying so young really put everything in to perspective, not only did I want to have a great life, create and fulfil a bucket list and achieve certain goals. I also started thinking more acutely about what I would like my funeral arrangements to be. We often spend so much of our time actively trying to lead a good life but we rarely give thought to having a good death.
At the time I was still single and staying with my parents so that involved letting them know how I would like my funeral service to be, that I would like to be cremated and even which songs I would like played (‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ BUT only the Judy Garland version!).
As you have probably guessed having that conversation with my Mum was pretty easy and then there was my Dad’s reaction. He didn’t want to hear us having the conversation because as far as he was concerned he wouldn’t be around to see my funeral and he walked out of the room. I guess this might be the reaction of many parents if their 20 year old wanted to discuss funeral arrangements but it can also be the reaction of many people regardless of what stage of life they are at. I’ll admit it can seem like a difficult conversation to have, yet it doesn’t have to be. Now at 26, engaged and having purchased my first home with my partner I have made a point of making sure that I have everything in place and have even started the ‘big conversation’ with my partner (he knows now too that it is only the Judy Garland version to be played!). Making sure everything in order this early on actually gives me some peace of mind.
Recently a survey commissioned by Royal London based on a survey of 500 people whose partner died in the past five years found that only 11% of those who had lost someone felt financially and practically prepared. The survey also revealed that two in five (41%) had made a will and just three in ten (30%) said they had talked about their funeral with their partner.
At Kilbryde Hospice this week we will be focusing on helping everyone become involved in having ‘the big conversation’ from talking about things we would like to accomplish before we die, speaking and opening up to our loved ones about funeral arrangements, advice on will writing, will reviews and power of attorney. Below is our calendar of events for Death Awareness Week at the hospice we would love to see everyone come along and participate at addressing the “Elephant in the Room”.
Monday – Coffee Morning 11am until 1pm. Come along to our coffee morning for some delicious baking, tea and coffee for just a donation. We will also have advice available on writing your will, reviewing your will or power of attorney.
Tuesday – Natural Death Society – We would love for anyone coming along to the hospice to share their favourite poems which have provided some comfort for them after the death of a loved one. All of the poems suggested will be collected and placed in a book in the Sanctuary of the hospice for those who are bereaved to look through for some comfort or even a poem they would like to use at a loved ones funeral.
Wednesday – Our Clinical Services Manager, Margaret Mary Cowan, will be leading “the Big Conversation” at 1.30pm until 2.30pm at our Drop-in service. Kilbryde Hospice will also be creating resources that can be printed from our Facebook page and Website which will allow those who would like to let their loved ones know how much they mean to them and also allow anyone who has been diagnosed with a life limiting illness share their favourite memories with their family.
At 7.00pm – 8.00pm Margaret Mary will be hosting our first ever ‘Death Café’ come along for an open discussion about death, dying and bereavement whilst having a cup of tea!
Thursday – Before I Die Wall – Throughout the week we will be asking everyone to have a think about what they would like to achieve before they die. The wall will be accessible in the Drop-In area and free for anyone to add too!
Friday – Kilbryde’s Top 20 Chart Funeral Songs – Again throughout the week we will be compiling our top 20 funeral songs and sharing these with the public and with, perhaps, some stories behind the choice.