“I don’t know what they wanted.” This is something we hear daily from family and friends who have lost someone they love, but have no idea what their wishes were. We care for and guide them through one of the most emotional times imaginable, and beyond. With our experience, and with Dying to Know Day fast approaching on Wednesday 8 August, we wanted to shed some light on the importance of talking through your end-of-life wishes and start some conversations about ‘the end’.
Although death is an inevitable part of life, very few of us want to talk about it, or if we do, we can be shut down as our family and friends may not want to. Who wants to think about their own death or the death of a loved one? With death denial being the norm in Australia, it’s no surprise that 75% of Australians have not had an end-of-life discussion, so you’re not alone if you feel it’s all a bit of a taboo subject. This can mean a great deal of uncertainty for our family and friends when it comes to celebrating the life of a unique, worthy and much-loved human being (you) in a way that is personal and befitting. It can also leave you uncertain of whether you’ll get what you want or need.
Difficult though it is to talk about, it isn’t impossible and needn’t be heavy. Having a discussion about what we want can be as simple as letting family members or friends know what your idea of a perfect farewell would be. If you want to be buried or cremated, be remembered in a garden setting or near water, what you’d like your epitaph to say about you, or not to have a headstone at all. All these pieces of information will ensure you get the send-off you deserve and give family and friends clarity during an emotionally vulnerable time.
The stress of not knowing what to do is further compounded by the fact that over 70% of deaths in Australia occur in hospitals or aged care facilities. Although most of us would prefer our final days to be lived out within our home, the reality is our family are often faced with making decisions outside the familiarity of home and under enormous time pressure. Families can inform and enlist the assistance of relevant care providers to ensure your final wishes are fulfilled if they know what you want.
You’re not alone in not wanting to discuss death, but there are things you can do to kick-start your plans. The beauty of planning means once it’s done you can just get on with life and make more wonderful memories with those you love. Dying to Know Day can help as it encourages Australians just like you to share in conversations where it’s okay to use the ‘d’ word – death – and begin making personal and meaningful end-of-life plans. View registered events in your local area here:
You can also use our handy, complimentary MYLifebook as a thought starter for all your plans. You don’t have to do it alone though, join our free, interactive MYLifebook workshops at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.
It’s never too late to make a start on your grand, and not-so-grand, wishes for a great send-off.