Dying Matters is a coalition of individual and organisational members across England and Wales, which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.
For the last couple of years, Dying Matters Awareness Week has challenged us all to answer a question: What Can You Do?
How can we help ourselves, or families and our communities face up to death and bereavement?
For 2019, they will ask another question: Are We Ready? It’s a question that challenges each of us on several levels. Are We Ready for our own deaths, or the deaths of those we care about? This is a practical question – wills, funeral planning and more – but of course it’s also emotional, even spiritual for some of us. For many of us, the answer will not be ‘yes’. We know from the research we’ve done that most people haven’t taken care of the practical aspects, which include deciding on organ donation, and planning our future care. And even for those that have, the emotional aspect of being ready for death is challenging. Who is ever really ready to die?
Such questions are best faced with the help of others, which is why we’re asking ‘Are We Ready?’ To face death and dying is a challenge greater than any one of us can face alone, and it is all of our responsibility. We’re in this life together, so our question is asking much more of us than you might think.
- Are We Ready to help others get their affairs in order?
- Are We Ready to help people we know who are caring for someone who is dying?
- Are We Ready to support someone who is grieving?
- Or even something as simple as “Are We Ready to talk about it?”
We can only know the answer if we start to have the conversation, and as we’ve said before, talking about it won’t make it happen. And those conversations don’t stop in our private lives – they have to form a part of the public debate as well. Are We Ready to volunteer at a local hospice? Are We Ready to support a bereavement charity? Are We Ready to do what we can in our communities to help people be ready?
After centuries of ministering to the dying, the Catholic Church has a fund of experience to share in what was traditionally called the art of dying well, or in Latin, Ars Moriendi https://www.artofdyingwell.org/