Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021
10-16 May 2021 marked Dying Matters Awareness Week which this year aimed to highlight the importance of being #InAGoodPlace to die. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the loss of our loved ones at the forefront of our discussions, and the #DMAW21 campaign aimed to encourage people to be braver and more open to thinking and talking about death and bereavement and making plans to protect their loved ones in the event of their death.
The campaign explored five themes throughout the week:
Physically – People will have different ideas of where they wish to die. Some may wish to die in a hospice or care home, with the support that this provides, whilst it may be important to others to die in the comfort of their own home. Planning for end of life not only helps our own mental health and wellbeing, it also allows those who will be left behind to prepare and understand what will happen.
Emotionally – Talking about death doesn’t bring it closer, nor manifest it to happen. Having conversations with those close to you will allow you to express your wishes about how and where you would like to die and what you wish to happen after your death. It may not be easy, but it is likely to help those you leave behind cope better emotionally. Sowing the seeds for conversation and not rushing these discussions is key. If you are worried about upsetting your loved ones, why not try writing a letter explaining how you feel.
Financially – Are you #InAGoodPlace to die? This is not a question we often ask or think about, despite how important it is. Writing a Will allows you to plan what will happen to your money, property and possessions after you die. If you die without leaving a Will, your assets will pass to certain family members according to a set of rules, which may not necessarily match with your wishes. This is of particular relevance if you wish to benefit a person who is not a blood relative or for example, a charity. None of us know what our futures hold so making a funeral plan and leaving written wishes about your funeral and what happens to your body (or having a conversation with your loved ones about this) will make things easier for your family when the time comes.
Spiritually – Death is more than just a physical process. It often appears that people choose the moment to die and try to resolve unfinished issues before that moment. Some people find revisiting old memories calming, whilst others welcome the opportunity to be visited by a chaplain, positioned so they are facing Mecca, or perhaps be part of a special ritual. It is important that these aspects are communicated with your loved ones so they understand your wishes. Spiritual care is for everyone, regardless of your faith.
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