Why we need to talk about death

Written by: Robert Peacock, Development Manager, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief
Image of a man and a woman talking outside

Robert sets out the aims of 'Good Death Week' and discusses why it is so important to talk about death, dying and bereavement.

Good Death Week takes place across Scotland from 14 – 20 May 2018. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself, “what does ‘a good death’ mean to me?”

For obvious reasons, death is not something people like to dwell on, but it’s important that everyone gives it some consideration. Too often in Scotland, extra anguish is caused because people simply aren’t prepared for something we all will face sooner or later.

Maybe they’ve not told their loved ones what they want to happen after they die. Maybe they are being kept alive or resuscitated when they’d rather be left to slip away. Maybe they end up dying in hospital instead of at home because they haven’t granted someone a power of attorney to make that decision on their behalf. For both the person dying and the people left behind, it is better to plan for these scenarios now, in good health and with a clear mind, rather than waiting for a crisis to happen.

That’s where Good Death Week comes in. The week is organised by Good Life Good Death Good Grief, an alliance of Scottish organisations and individuals working to make Scotland a place where there is more openness about death, dying and bereavement. It is designed to promote discussion and encourage people to act and plan ahead for their own death.

Events are taking place up and down the country, including Death Lunches, where people discuss these things informally over a bite to eat, information and advice sessions run by hospices, funeral directors and other professionals, and arts events and exhibitions aimed at provoking thoughts and action.

If you can’t get to events in person, don’t worry, you can join in online. The Health and Social Care Academy is hosting a Twitter chat between 11.30am and 12.30pm on Thursday 17 May. Use the hashtag #GoodDeathWeek and join in. You can also follow the @LifeDeathGrief account on Twitter to find out about other activities, including an online quiz which will be launched during the week. There are resources (this link will take you away from our website) to help you plan ahead on the Good Life Good Death Good Grief website, as well as more fun ways to get the conversation started, like an origami game (this link will take you away from our website) and an online Before I Die… wall (this link will take you away from our website), a public art project which invites you to record the things you still want to do.

Talking about death will not make it happen sooner, but it may help you reach decisions that are very important. Of course, there are limits to how far you can anticipate and plan for the unknown circumstances of your own death. But the process of finding out and thinking about end of life issues can leave you and your loved ones better equipped to respond to the realities when they arrive. Even if you just take the opportunity to sit down and start talking, you are doing your loved ones a big kindness.

Good Death Week runs from May 14 – 20. For more information visit Good Life Good Death Good Grief (this link will take you away from our website).

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