‘How people die remains in the memory of those who live on.’

EK bereavement.2

This oft-cited quote is from Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.  This week we want talk about a tricky topic – dying well.  We’ll share two main aspects of bereavement: 

  • the help that’s available to you or your friends and family members;
  • what you could do next to help cope with your loss

It’s not something that I want to dwell on too much –it’s for that vague time called ‘the future’, but it is an important thing to think about.  Where would you want to die?  At home, in a care home, or in a hospital?

As a society, it could be argued that we’re not very good at talking about dying.  It’s not something that is easily brought up with your loved ones in dinner conversation, or whilst watching Corrie.  Perhaps it’s time to change. 

My mum died last year, in a nursing home.  My dad had been sat with her all day and it was obvious she didn’t have that long left, but it could have been days or more than a week.  It was when he briefly popped out late in the evening to pick up some stuff from home that she died.  She had been in that nursing home for several years, so it was home to her in many ways, and she had the staff with her – staff that she knew well.  I think that was a good way for her to go, but we didn’t really know what she wanted – she’d not been able to communicate for a few months. She’d never talked about it before, and we never asked – a lesson learnt there!

So despite our reservations, thinking and talking about where we might want to die is useful and important.  I could continue this blog with a list of documents, reports, white papers and strategies from many parts of the health and social care system that are looking at how people can be helped to die where (and how) they want, but I’ll keep it slightly shorter than that. What is true, is when you delve deeper, there are many people who care about what happens at the end of someone’s life, and who are trying to improve things in this area.

One voluntary organisation in Leeds who has helped a family in this difficult time is Otley Action for Older People (OAOP), one of the many Neighbourhood Networks available across Leeds.  We are grateful to the family of Mr N and their willingness to talk about his death and how OAOP’s volunteers stepped in to help them out at that difficult time. To read their experience, please click here.  

If you want help in end of life care, or in coping with bereavement, there are several websites that might help:

Dying Matters [link http://dyingmatters.org/] is for everyone who is contemplating end of life care – either professionally or for themselves or loved ones.

The Leeds Bereavement Forum [link http://www.lbforum.org.uk/index.htm] has a directory of services, and lots of help for bereaved people and their friends and families. They also train other organisations that support those who have been bereaved.

 Cruse Bereavement Care [link http://www.cruse.org.uk/home] is a national charity that helps anyone bereaved by death to understand their grief and cope with their loss.

 If you’ve been bereaved,  for the rest of this week, we’ll be looking at just some of the options available for when you’re ready to ‘open the front door and face the world again’.

 * Quotes from ‘Supporting people to live and die well: a framework for social care at the end of life’, National End of Life Care Programme, July 2010

Written by a member of the Communications Team.

About betterlivesleeds

Health, social and age-related care services working together to make Leeds the best city for health and wellbeing
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