Talking about dying, before you need to, can help you and the people you love to be able to accept and have an honest conversation.
Talking to your loved one gives them the opportunity to share openly about any worries, fears or wishes that we have. Conversations give the opportunity to prompt so that wills are prepared and finances are settled and other wishes can be discussed, for example, around life support machines, organ donation, cremation, burial or about what kind of send-off we would like.
Some organised people buy funeral plans so everything is arranged and families don’t have to worry financially or that they are forgetting an important part, its important to be aware of these finer details so when it come to the time of arrangement you will feel more at ease making certain decisions.
Older people tend to be more able to talk about death and dying with their peers than with their younger friends and relatives. This barrier to conversation is reinforced by the fact that younger people rarely want to start conversations, even about Wills, for fear they may come across as only being interested in money. They will even go so far as to shut down conversations with terminally ill or older loved ones who are trying to bring up the subject. “You’ll be around for a while, yet” or, “You’ll out-live us all,” may be well-intended, but makes it harder for that person to express their feelings. This can cause the conversation to stop and feeling dismissed.
People are worried about starting conversations that they may up set or offend others. We become frightened about what we may hear and become anxious that we may not be able to handle emotionally the
conversation about fears and feelings and feel very awkward about mentioning important personal issues such as toilets and keeping clean. Its always best to create a space where people can feel like they can express their wishes without judgment. If you do find it challenging to Bring up the conversation, its always worth noting them down in a notepad and letting a family member or friend know where it is in case they are needed.
It’s best to break the news face to face if possible and use plain simple language to avoid confusion, Sometimes it’s not possible and you may have to phone people with the news. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time. It always helps to tell the person in a safe and confidential setting and there are no interruptions. If you’re about to tell/call a vulnerable person, you might want to tell them at a time when there’s going to be someone else along side them, so they won’t be on their own afterwards and have someone to talk to if needed.
Allow them to ask questions. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. It’s better to admit you don’t know than try to make something up. People can have very different reactions to death depending on their attitudes, beliefs and the relationship they have with the person who is dying. It’s important to take their individual feelings into consideration, and avoid pushing anyone into talking if they don’t want to.
Telling a child that a person they loved has died can be difficult. It is best coming from an adult the child trusts and knows well in a place where they are comftable and not overstimulating and away from distractions. Use clear language that they can understand, such as ‘he has died’ as these are easier for children to understand than ‘lost’, ‘passed away’ or ‘In a better Place’. Allow for time together for comfort, support and any questions they may ask.
Answer questions honestly, but keep explanations short, clear and appropriate for their age and understanding. It is OK to say you don’t know the answer to a question, but that you will come back to them if you find an answer. It is OK to show your emotions and to explain that you are sad because the person has died, and that it is OK and a part of life to be sad sometime. Tell them about plans for the days ahead, including who will take them to school or activities, If you need to leave them and where you will be going. This will help them to feel secure.
Using resources such as books are a great way of explaining life and death to children, and answering any questions they might have.
If you wish to have a discussion with one of our funeral arrangers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can talk through yours and your loved one’s needs and discuss how we can best celebrate their life.