This morning, I sat at my computer and cried. I had just read the passing of someone called Joyce Tan Siew Ling who lived in Malaysia. Now, I am not the type to mourn the passing of lives from this world to the next. After all, we are all here on borrowed time, and Death was the only thing that was ever promised to us at birth. It comes to us all sooner or later.
Many people will struggle to get the care that they need as they approach the end of their life. According to Marie Curie, between now and 2020, approximately 250,000 people will die in London. We need to ensure that everyone who needs end of life care can expect to receive a high level of care that is personalised, coordinated, and sensitive to the needs of those around the patient as they enter their final months, weeks and days.
Currently, the three people I would like to reach out to, say goodbye to and make peace with before I die, they have gone before me. They are dead. No more explanations. But I am taking their memories with me into every new day. I am trying to avoid repeats by speaking the truth and asking for the truth, even if I do not get an answer, even if the answer hurts.
I wrote in December about doing Christmas brilliantly. I hope everyone did and had a great time. Part of that ramble was saying that Christmas is an opportunity to end the year well and start a new one well. Ending something well has become a bit of a theme over the last few weeks for a number of reasons.
Whether it's through writing a will, making financial plans, planning for our future care and support including through making a Lasting Power of Attorney, or deciding whether we want to join the organ donor, all of us can increase the likelihood of getting our wishes met and reduce the chances of life after our death becoming even more difficult for the people we care about.
It's Autumn, well and truly. Equinox fell the weekend before last. Autumn is always new year in my heart. Not for me the arbitrariness of a new year in January when the Northern Hemisphere is in darkness. Rather, Autumn, when the air is full of life and death, possibilities and change. That's my new year.
How do we deal with terminal or life-shortening illness? What do we do, if it is us, a loved one or someone we know? There is no off-the-shelf answer; there is no simple solution. It is a journey we may find ourselves on unexpectedly and unprepared, or we may already be on the way, knowingly or unknowingly.
Marie Curie works on its own and in partnership with a wide range of NHS, public and voluntary sector organisations to tackle many of the challenges highlighted in today's report. We want everyone, wherever they live to be able to have a 'good death', provided with the care they want and need, with support available for them and their families.