We need to talk about dying

by Phil McCarvill Head of Policy and Public Affairs, England Phil-McCarvil_300x300

Today is the start of Dying Matters Awareness Week, which takes place from 12-18 May. Dying Matters is a broad-based and inclusive national coalition of 30,000 members, which aims to change public attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement.

The Dying Matters Coalition encourages people to talk about their wishes towards the end of their lives, including where they want to die and their funeral plans with friends, family and loved ones. Talking about dying can help ensure that those around know what you want, and perhaps more importantly, what you don’t.

Difficult conversations

Marie Curie is a member of the Dying Matters Coalition and is committed to encouraging people to talk about death and dying. In March 2014, we published our Difficult Conversations report, which is based on in-depth conversations with terminally ill people, and current and bereaved carers. It explores key issues relating to conversations within families and with health and social care. We have produced this slideshow to highlight the key findings of the research.  The report found that a terminal diagnosis and any discussions around death involve difficult conversations between individuals and carers, and with different professionals. It is often said that our society continues to shy away from talking about death and dying – with the result that not initiating conversations about what people want, expect and understand can create problems for all involved. Lack of conversations and poor communication mean that terminally ill people are not involved in making key decisions, professionals are left unsure about what services to provide and bereaved families are left asking whether their loved one wanted something different. The report was launched at Westminster and beforehand we asked our Facebook followers to tell us the one thing that politicians could do to improve end of life care. We got a huge response and were able to share what our supporters had told us with politicians at the event.  We will continue to share this feedback with decision-makers and influencers.