This is an extremely sensitive subject and one that I have thought long and hard about writing about. I have written this, re-written this, scrapped it and written it again but never the less it keeps coming back to me as a topic that I want to talk about because its so important and we are very reluctant to do it.
We have all faced death in someway in our lives whether that be the loss of a loved one, a terminal diagnosis or a close call with death yourself. For me it comes from working as a nurse, where facing the inevitability of death was common place.
We all know that we are born, we live and we die but the latter is something we find so hard to talk about. So hard in fact that a lot of us just don’t.
How do we find the words to talk about it? How can we bring ourselves to discuss what happens when we or our loved ones die? Why do we even need to talk about it when the discussion of being separated from our nearest and dearest is too painful to bear? Its just easier not too, right?
It is painful, devastating and heart breaking to even imagine a world without the person you love in it, let-a-lone talk about it. The problem is that death is the one thing in life which is guaranteed to happen, we just don’t know when or how and all too often people are taken too soon and unexpectedly.
People don’t talk about it, and therefore people don’t feel comfortable talking about it, often leaving the grieving to grieve in solitude, not knowing how to talk about it themselves and surrounded by people who also aren’t comfortable talking about it either.
Death shouldn’t be a taboo subject, it happens. All that happens by not talking about it, or putting any plans in place that demonstrate your wishes, is that when the inevitable does happen loved ones are left with really important decisions to make on your behalf without a clue what you would have wanted.
I’ve seen families fall apart over differences in opinions about what should happen and left with huge amounts of additional stress when they are trying to grieve. These decisions are not just about finances and your favourite watch, sometimes those decisions are about your medical treatment at a time when you don’t have capacity to make that decision yourself.
Next week is Organ Donation Week. This is a week highlighting the need for organ donation and looking at the incredible survival stories of those lucky enough to receive a transplant as well as celebrating those who chose to donate.
Becoming an organ donor is a decision that you have to make in advance and make your loved ones aware of your wishes. It might be that, in that moment, organ donation isn’t even an option, but if it is, its going to have to be something your loved one’s consent to on your behalf and it will make that decision a lot easier knowing that this is what you would have wanted.
When discussing this with my family I remember my mum stating that she didn’t want me to give away my eyes in fear that I wouldn’t be able to see anything after I died. I’m sure the image of me wandering around bumping in to everything after I’m gone was a very upsetting thought, but I did go on to explain that I also want to be cremated and if the same rule applies then the afterlife is going to be a very dusty place!
Living an incredible life is important but its also important to make plans for when we are no longer here to relieve the stress from our loved ones. It might be that your quite indifferent about what happens to you after death, your views and preferences are personal to you, but even letting your loved ones know that you don’t care what they do after you are gone can relieve their anxiety’s if ever faced with those decisions.
I know that even when a lot of you saw that I’d written about this subject you would have found yourself feeling uneasy about even reading it. Death shouldn’t be a taboo subject; it happens to us all.
My views on organ donation come from my time working as a nurse and seeing first hand the need for more donations. For me, giving somebody that chance to live an incredible life after I’m not here by giving them something that I no longer need is important to me but I completely respect others views who would not want to donate.
We need to be having these conversations. Talk to those closest to you about what you want when your gone, what they would want when their gone and keep those lines of communication open. The more you talk about it the less of a massive subject it becomes.
Make a plan, write a will and if you want to be an organ donor then click this link to be placed on the register. In the mean time, keep living your incredible life knowing that when your time comes, your loved ones will be safe in the knowledge that they followed your wishes.