I have wanted to write this piece for a few months now, but it has taken me this long to actually put my thoughts on paper and if I am to be really honest I just wasn’t ready to write about it.

After watching my mother and sister deal with my father’s failing health I thought I would put down a few thoughts about what we should all be doing in regards to our own impending deaths even if they are years away…which we all hope they are. But life is funny, you never know what is around the corner and it is so important that while we can we take certain steps to make sure that our wishes are well known.

We don’t realise how hard and expensive it is to die! So I have come up with a few pointers that everyone should have in place just in case something was to happen.

Death is a topic that inspires fear and denial in all of us, we like to think we are invincible. But it is important to discuss with our loved ones our wishes for a number of different scenarios.
Organ donation (even if you carry an organ donation card, let your loved ones know your wishes)
Life threatening illness (what do you want to happen…DNR-Do Not Resuscitate, or leave you on support because ‘you never know what can happen’)
Dementia/Alzheimer’s (stay in your family home or go into care?)

2. Make sure you have a plan for how you want your life remembered. It isn’t wrong to have your funeral plan written out. A lot of people now would rather ‘celebrate life’ than have the traditional funerals, so make sure your plan is in effect and your family know what you want. Discuss what you want for your last words.

3. If you Insurance Policies make sure you have all listed so your loved ones know who to call and what to do.

4. Have your Will drawn up so that what you want to leave as a legacy is legal. The worst thing that could happen is to not have your wishes followed.

5. Be Hospital ready. If you are ill make sure you have all your information in one place, such as a list of your drugs you take, a copy of your DNR, everything you think the hospital staff will need to know.

6. Have Advocates that can deal with the hospital and deal with them strongly. If it wasn’t for my sister the hospital would have sent my father home for my mother to try and look after right at the end, the one thing she couldn’t do.

My dad felt like he was a burden to his family at the end and was ready to die because he didn’t like what he had become. But once in the hospital on a medical ward all they wanted to do was help him live. Luckily my sister was his advocate and she was able to get him transferred to Palliative Care. Although the staff were wonderful in that unit, the unit itself was not warm or welcoming, how could it be when people went there to die. So it was important to have things around dad that he loved, music and photos. It was all about tending to his dignity by way of his senses as most hospitals usually assault our senses. I think it also helped us with our own grief because there was so much warmth around him.

Loss is one thing but regret at not providing what dad wanted is quite another. So please even though this is such a tough topic make sure it is something you discuss with your loved ones to make it easier for them to remember the good times of your life.