Dying Matters to me because I have a life-limiting condition. However, the truth is Dying Matters for everyone. We're all going to die, I just have more knowledge of how and when I will die than the rest of the population. That said, even I don't know when I will die. I was given a five year prediction in 2012, which I have reached and am determined to exceed; but my time is limited, every day is a blessing and I will never make 'old bones'.
Death is a taboo and is a topic that we don't want to think or talk about. Like "He Who Shall Not Be Named" from Harry Potter, no one dares speak of it. Why? Why is death a topic we neglect to speak or think about? Life has a terminal prognosis, no one gets out alive. In effect, from the day you are born, you are slowly dying. Some die in childhood or even before birth, whereas others live into triple figures. Death can happen at any age, but whatever the age, it will happen.
It's Dying Matters Awareness Week; a week which aims to get people thinking about, talking about and planning for death and dying. It aims to stamp out the taboo around death and dying and get the subject firmly on the agenda. You can join in with the week and support Dying Matters via their website
I have life-limiting conditions. I've been under palliative care for six years, then told I'd be lucky to get another five years in 2012. Death and dying is a part of my every day life, a topic that we have been forced to speak about. Recently, my condition has deteriorated further, my chronic infections are no longer treatable, we're running out of access for my Hickman Lines for my TPN (intravenous feeding) and things are on a downward spiral. My visions of far exceeding my prognosis are looking unlikely. So every day is a blessing. I'm doing my end of life planning currently, including appointing my Lasting Power of Attorney, formalising my preferred place of care (PPC) and preferred place of death (PPD), as well as the Statement of Wishes part of the Advance Care Plan. I still want to be resuscitated and I don't want to refuse treatment, so I will not be doing those parts of the Advance Care Plan.
I wish everyone would talk about death and dying, make their wishes known and plan for their death. If people don't plan ahead for eventualities, things could happen that would not be what the person wanted or they could leave their families with difficult decisions to make, not knowing what their loved one wanted and leaving them endless things to sort out. If we all talked about death, made our wishes known and made all the formal preparations, then no one would have their experience of death or end of life care to be in the way that they didn't want. The most prominent end of life planning that everyone knows about is creating a will, to set out your wishes and plans for your assets and who gets what, any provisions for your children and setting out other things like plans and wishes for your funeral. However, there is more than just creating a will. This includes appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf if you lacked capacity, as well as doing an Advance Care Plan. An Advance Care Plan includes the Statement of Wishes, which summarises your care and how you want it to be provided and any wishes or requests you have, as well as the DNACPR (Do Not Attempt CardioPulmonary Resuscitation), for those who would not want to be resuscitated if they suffered a cardiac arrest, as well as the Advance Directive which states what treatments, procedures or interventions the person wouldn't want, such as not wanting to be put on a ventilator. Doing these are vital to make sure you are cared for how and where you want to be and so your end of life care happens in accordance with your wishes.
Dying Matters to everyone - you only live once, but you only die once too. So, even if you don't have a terminal illness, talk about death, make your wishes known and make the formal arrangements and plans for your life, your wishes and your death. Make sure your death is a good death, that the end of your life occurs in accordance with your wishes.