It is the one great certainty of life; and it’s not a political issue, although it does have political consequences. No one really likes to think of the end of life but it is (along with taxes – slightly political) the one great certainty.
I know that you, like me, are probably too busy living life to the full to think about this inevitable curtain call. Sadly, fewer and fewer of us make proper provision for this key event and that can cause all sorts of problems, not least for those left behind after a loved one has died. That’s why I fully supported this year’s Dying Matters Week last week and, in particular, our local healthcare trust’s project #MyLastOrders. Death and dying is a sensitive area which requires thoughtful, open conversation, and yes it does have political and social impact.
There is the increase in funeral poverty as the cost of funerals and financial constraints combine to make the final act of life less affordable for many. Is the cost of dying too high? And there are the social consequences of the ‘Sandwich Generation’. This is the age group which has responsibility for both young children and ageing parents, with all the emotional and financial demands that can make. How do you begin those difficult conversations between elderly parents and children about where someone might like to spend the end of their days or even what kind of funeral someone would like?
The key question in all of this is where do you create the space to have important, relaxed conversation about these issues? Morecambe Bay NHS Trust provided such a space in Lancaster last Thursday at the Storey Institute. The event, #MyLastOrders, offered a café space and resources for local people to get together and begin a thoughtful conversation about the most certain event of life. It was a conversation about people’s needs, about resources, about challenges and about what matters most to you in life.
#MyLast Orders was a joint project with several sections of the trust involved using well tested material to get people talking.