EPUT supports Dying Matters Awareness Week 2021 

May 10, 2021

Our clinical lead for end-of-life care Tracy Reed shares her experiences of preparing for her mum’s death at the start of Dying Matters Awareness Week.

“When my mum died in 2019 she had prepared us all by discussing all her wishes and preferences. She wrote it all in a book to help us. We didn’t have to keep discussing it but she told us often she wanted her care to be at home, what she wanted to wear when she died and what sort of music she wanted at her funeral. We were able to support her death at home surrounded by friends and family who loved her.

It was hard to lose a lady who was loved so very much but she wrote a poem for her funeral (see right) and had red pompoms on her coffin as instructed by her to make the grandchildren laugh! It was so lovely to make sure what she wanted happened and her death and funeral was a coming together of those wishes.

It made things easier to know what she wanted and it was about her. During COVID-19 it has made me reflect on those people who have not been as fortunate as me but to ensure people are loved and live on in our memories by the conversations and openness to discuss death makes elements of grief easier. It ensures that the person as an individual is remembered. We are all individuals and death needs to reflect that as it does in life.”

More people have been dying at home in recent years, and COVID-19 has seen this number surge, with more than 1,000 additional people now dying at home each week – but we know very little about these people’s experiences at the end of their lives, nor for those close to them.

There is no right or wrong place to die – it will be different for everyone. Over 80% of people when asked say they would prefer to die at home. But the pandemic has shown it’s more important than ever for families to think, talk about and plan for death, including having discussions about care, making a will, funeral choices and building memories for loved ones.

Dying Matters Awareness Week is a chance for you to join the Dying Matters movement – making sure that more people in the UK are in a good place when they die.

The week’s five themes are outlined below – they explore what it means to be in a good place, and how you and your loved ones can plan for the end of life. We will be releasing information on each of the themes throughout the week – look out for blogs from Tracy Reed.

·       Physically (place of death, advance care planning)

·       Emotionally (talking about death, making sure loved ones are cared for)

·       Financially (making a will, making funeral plans)

·       Spiritually (how different faith groups talk about and prepare for death)

·       Digitally (looking at digital assets, social media, online banking)

If we discuss dying with our loved ones when we are well and prepare, it is more likely preferences and wishes will be supported at the time of our death. At EPUT we encourage these difficult discussions and for patients to share with health and social care professionals when receiving our services. We only get one chance to get it right and together we can work to support this if you have made choices, discussed this and made us aware.

Planning for death is more important than ever during a pandemic which has taken so many lives at such short notice and in circumstances that are beyond our control.

Dying Matters Awareness Week is about ensuring our communities are prepared to talk and sharing our stories to learn and support one another.

Have you got a story or experience you would like to share? Contact EPUT’s communication team: epunft.communications@nhs.net