Dying Matter Leeds aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. The partnership is made up of key organisations across the city, including Leeds City Council, the NHS, third sector organisations and businesses involved in death, dying and bereavement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a sharpening of attention around severe illness, death and dying. In acknowledgment of this, Dying Matters has launched the #InaGoodPlaceToDie campaign – so people can share their experiences and talk through concerns at this unprecedented and difficult time. As we move towards Dying Matters Week, which takes place this year between 8-14 May, the key message, ‘of being in a good place to die’ has never been more significant.
Death, dying and bereavement
Death, dying and bereavement is part of the circle of life – and is as natural as birth, puberty, becoming an adult – or all the many other stages and milestones we encounter in our lives.
As our cultures have changed over the centuries, many of the traditions and rituals our ancestors performed throughout life and in respect of those who had died, have also died out. Their lifestyles, customs and ceremonies played an important part in helping natural grieving and healing and moving forward with life.
Long before we were a ‘global community’ with such advancement in technology, people only talked face-to-face – and speaking about difficult things was an aspect of everyday life. Getting to know each other in this way meant that among people who loved and cared about each other, things that really mattered were known about and understood.
Now, it’s important that we help others really know what is significant and meaningful to us in all areas of life and death – and to listen when others want to talk to us about it.
How to prepare
We can look online at how people have prepared for their own death or helped someone they care about – or care for, feel fulfilled and calm in their final months, weeks or days.
We can also find see examples of how families, friends, communities and nations have come together to celebrate someone’s life with real feeling, love and respect – that is both healing and life-affirming. Even when circumstances may prevent our dying or funeral wishes being met, talking about death and dying and getting our affairs in order makes a ‘good death’ more likely.
Resources for supporting children and young people
Leeds City Council and Child Bereavement UK have worked together to create an animation based on this advice. You can watch the animation here
You can also watch the recording of a webinar delivered by professionals in Leeds in February this year, focussing on supporting bereaved children and young people – watch here.
A full list of services for supporting children and young people are available on Leeds Bereavement Forum website.
How can we do that in Leeds?
We want the people of Leeds to:
- Feel more comfortable talking about death and dying
- Discuss their end of life wishes with family members and/or health and social care professionals.
- Plan for their death including writing their will, registering as an organ donor and communicating their funeral wishes
To enable health and social care professionals/volunteers to:
- Feel able to engage their own clients around planning for the last years of life
Talking about dying makes it more likely that you, or your loved one, will die as you might have wished and it will make it easier for your loved ones if they know have had had a “good death”.
We want to help you start those conversations.
Listen to what poet Ian McMillan has written about it.
Planning Ahead for if things change
We all want to make choices about the way we live, and we make these choices based on what matters most to us. Everyone is different, and their choices are different, too.
If we meet health problems in the future, we will want to make choices about how we are treated. Sometimes there are lots of options and sometimes options are limited, but we will still make our decisions based on what matters most to us. Sometimes, people don’t feel well enough to choose at the time when important health-care decisions need to be made.
Feel free to fill in this booklet in your own time – you don’t have to do it all at once. This booklet is a chance for you to think about what matters to you and what you would like to happen if things changed or if you suddenly became ill. It is yours to use how you wish and you can change your answers in the future if you want to.
It aims to help you think, talk, and explore topics whilst you are well so that you are better prepared and can have good conversations with people who matter to you. You may wish to do this privately, with friends and family, with support groups, or a health and social care professional.