What is your biggest fear? Today, I’m going to discuss one of mine and the need to face this fear as well as making plans for the future. It isn’t a pleasant topic but an important one we all need to address.
For most of my life my biggest fear was death. So when I read that the prompt this week at Denyse Whelan Blogs was My Biggest Fear and having also received an email about National Palliative Care week, I felt the universe was sending me a message.
I have never wanted to think about death and remember having nightmares as a child that my mum would die. It was a subject I just wasn’t comfortable with. Some people have faith to help them overcome fear. For others it might be an acceptance as we age. The one thing that is certain is that there is no escaping death and I do believe that our time is a matter predetermined.
As I matured I never dwelt on the subject although I lost my Mum at 60 and my Dad at 66 both to cancer. My brother handled all the details of their funerals, but I know that neither of my parents ever discussed what they wanted. It wasn’t really the ‘done thing’ nearly 40 years ago.
It wasn’t until my brother passed away a couple of years ago at 65 and also to cancer, that as my 60th birthday approached my mortality was more frequently on my mind. The more I thought about it, the more I felt comfortable and it was serendipitous when I was asked to write a post for Carol Cassara at a Healing Spirit – Take Control of your Mortality and start living the life you want now.
Today, I was having coffee with a friend who is in her early 60s. We had been discussing travel and life and she made the statement that she had no fear of death because she had had such a wonderfully full life. Her travels have taken her around the world and she has three beautiful children all with their own families.
So perhaps it is time to face the subject that people like to avoid and make some practical decisions. It is National Palliative Care Week 20th – 26th May so a pertinent reminder for all of us to seriously consider how we want our ‘end of life’ experience to be handled. You have control about your life and also your death.
Recently an Australian scientist, David Goodall made the trip to Switzerland at the age of 104 to end his life the way he wanted to – with dignity.
Euthanasia is a very sensitive subject but he felt that was what he wanted, he had lived a good life and so he travelled to another country, because assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia. The state of Victoria became the first to legalise the practice last year, with strict conditions which don’t come into place until 2019.
National Palliative Care Week
The Australian Government Department of Health website has specific information and ideas about Palliative care and End of Life Planning.
They have four areas which are covered under the Palliative Care and End of Life Planning subject. I have given a very brief summary here so would suggest you go to the website to read more in detail.
1. Understand your end of life care options
- This covers what palliative care is and also what options are available to the patient. Would you like to stay at home, in a hospice, hospital or aged care?
- Palliative care is also about practical and emotional support for the individual and family
2. Questions you need to ask yourself
- What do you want?
- Would you family know what you wanted?
- Who would be the decision maker if you were unable to make decisions?
3. Starting the Conversation
Of course, no one likes talking about end of life, especially with their family. However, it is so important to have the conversation so you can convey your wishes and be very clear how you want to handle this important time of our life.
When my father-in-law passed away a couple of years ago, the only information we knew was that there was a burial plot that my in-laws had purchased many years ago. It was difficult for my husband to make decisions because there was no Advanced Care Directive in place and not knowing what his father would have wanted. Questions surrounding life support etc were never discussed.
4. Documenting your wishes
This includes Advanced Care Plans and Advanced Care Directives to document your wishes and appoint a decision maker, if you are unable to communicate your wishes.
It is also important to document what will happen to you after you die. This is such an emotional time for family and friends that being specific of what you want to happen will not make the time less sad or emotional but will certainly be one less decision they have to make.
The following Video includes thoughts from prominent Australians about how they feel about death, palliative care and end of life. All agree that no one wants to talk about death or dying or loved ones suffering but also agree that we need to discuss. Paraphrasing Jean Kitsen:
we all talk easily about holidays,, reality T.V, food allergies and even menopause but when it comes to the subject of death and dying we block our ears and sing la,la,la,la,la.
The more we discuss the subject the easier it becomes to overcome our fears. Once we have a plan in place we can then just get on with the business of living and enjoying the life that we have.
Have you put a Palliative Care and End of Life plan in place?
Have you had the difficult conversation with your family?
Are you facing this situation with your parents?
Please join the conversation and share your story which may help others.