Dying Matters Awareness Week 2019

23 April 2019

The movement towards a more open approach to mortality continues its momentum.

Dying Matters Awareness Week 2019

Dying Matters, one of the UK’s leading organisations for promoting the importance of talking about death and dying, has reframed the message of its annual Awareness Week. From 13 – 19 May 2019, the coalition will be encouraging people to ask themselves whether they are ready to face death and the deaths of those around them. Here, we explore why this conversation is an important one to have.

Every year, Dying Matters puts together a programme of activities across the country, to highlight the importance of having the difficult conversation about death and dying in order to better prepare for it. A coalition of individual and organisational members, Dying Matters emerged in 2009 when the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) began promoting public awareness of death and dying. Since then, it has grown in recognition and stature, with the annual Awareness Week now an increasingly impactful event.

In previous years, Dying Matters Awareness Week has challenged people to ask the question ‘What Can You Do?’ to help families and communities improve knowledge and understanding of death and bereavement. But this year, the theme of the week looks at how ready we are as individuals for our own deaths and those of the people in our lives.

The inescapable fact is that death is something we all have to face at some time in our lives. It is a life event which unites us all. But because of our societal reluctance to talk about it, often people find themselves completely unprepared for funeral planning and bereavement. However, more and more funeral, later life and palliative care professionals are voicing their frustrations on the issues this is causing.

The BBC is also working to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, through its Radio 4 series entitled ‘We Need to Talk About Death’. Programme presenter, Joan Bakewell, writes in The Guardian: “How terrible, when the world in all its practicality, its routines of order and procedure intrudes upon that precious moment.” Her sentiments are essentially that we are so unprepared for death that we do not know what to do when it occurs.

One of the most compelling reasons to discuss death and end of life wishes together with family members or friends is to reduce the worry for those left behind when the time comes. Often, people fail to communicate these wishes, such as where they want to die, and what should happen at their funeral, leaving loved ones unable to answer questions posed by funeral directors about specific funeral arrangements. This can have the impact of compounding grief at what is usually an extremely difficult time.

Another thing to consider ahead of time is who will be left to pay for the service. This can be extremely challenging for loved ones, especially if the deceased’s estate does not cover the funeral costs, or cannot be released before the funeral takes place. Dying Matters Awareness Week encourages people to make arrangements for their own funeral as well as denoting how it will be paid for.

Dying Matters explains that having clear instructions in place for your funeral can make it easier for your loved ones. A pre-paid funeral plan from your local funeral director can be an effective way to make your wishes known, and provide for your own or a loved one’s funeral service. For more information about pre-paid funeral plans, please speak to your local funeral director, and visit the Dying Matters website to learn more and get involved its Awareness Week.