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Top ten things to think about this Dying Matters Week

 

Talking about death doesn’t tempt fate. It won’t make it happen sooner. You may be comfortable with the subject or you might have never given it a second thought. Whichever camp you’re in, it’s well worth being aware of your choices. Choices that, if made in advance, can support you to die well in the place you want to be and with peace of mind.

No one wants to spend their final days on this earth worrying about what needs to be sorted out. Before you even get ill why not make a list and have a plan ready?

Here are our top ten things you might like to consider - you might choose to think about as many or few as you like.

 

1. Have you made a Will?

Hospiscare's Will Fortnight

If not, don’t miss Hospiscare’s Will Fortnight (3-14 June, bookings open now), where local solicitors will be waiving their fees for writing a Will so that you can make a donation to Hospiscare.

It’s worth knowing that if you die leaving children under 18 without a parent, the court will appoint a legal guardian unless you specify in your Will who you’d like to look after them.

 

2. Have you thought about organ donation?

Organ donor card

The way we do organ donation in the UK is currently changing, but if you’d like to be an organ donor, at the moment you need to opt in via the NHS Organ Donor Register. You can choose what you’d like to donate and change your preferences at any time.

 

3. What do you want done with any social media accounts you have?

Someone logging in to Instagram

In the social media age, who we are online is a part of how we interact with the world, but deciding what happens to social accounts after we die is something we rarely think about.

Facebook offers the opportunity for your page to be ‘memorialised’, creating an online space for people to remember you - you can nominate someone to manage this page for you. Alternatively, you can opt to have your account deleted after you die – take a look at Facebook’s guidelines to find out how.

With other social media sites, you could choose to give your passwords to someone you trust who could look after or delete your account after your death.

 

4. Do you want to leave personal video messages, cards, or letters for people to open after you’ve died?

Pen on paper

Some people find that letters are an easier way to communicate things that are difficult to talk about, or a good way to leave behind important memories for your loved ones. You could even make a 'memory box' of meaningful objects.

 

5. Where do you want to die?

Jean at home with her Hospiscare nurse

Some people feel very strongly about where they'd like to be when they die. However, it's not always possible for those left behind to honour those wishes - for example, when it is no longer realistic to look after someone at home. That's why it's useful to have a discussion with loved ones, and healthcare professionals where appropriate, about what the best solution could be for everyone.

 

6. What do you want to do about funeral arrangements?

A graveyard in a forest

You might like to think about who you’d invite, where you’d hold it, and whether you’d like a burial or cremation. There’s also no requirement to hire a funeral director if you’d rather arrange things yourself. Funerals mean something different to different people, so don’t feel pressure to do things a certain way.

 

7. Do you want your coffin decorated?

Wicker coffin decorated with daisies

Nowadays, your coffin options go far beyond flower arrangements. Some people opt for personalised coffins that show off their personalities, hobbies and interests. There are also a wide range of eco-friendly options available for coffins if that’s something that’s important to you.

 

8. What music do you want at your funeral?

Someone playing the violin

2019's most popular choice so far is Frank Sinatra's 'My Way'. If music is something you feel strongly about, you could even put together a CD or playlist of music for your loved ones to choose from.

 

9. Is there anything people need to know about before you die?

Women on a beach

Are there any other practical concerns people might need to know about after your death, such as the number to a safe, where you keep passwords, or even what your pets' favourite food is?

 

10. Who knows what your final wishes are?

Archie the therapy dog visits Hospiscare

Making your wishes for how you’d like to be cared for clear is a good way to make things easier for your loved ones. You might like to record your preferences for end of life care, whether that’s who would look after any pets or where you’d like to be cared for. You might find this website helpful. 

 

In life you have choice over how you live, so why not plan for your choices in death? 

And why not do so sooner rather than later? That way, you can spend those last precious days, weeks and months doing what really matters most to you.

If you want to find out more about planning for the future and how to talk about it with your loved ones, or you’d like to know more about Hospiscare services, we’d love to see you at our stand on Avenue F at the Devon County Show where we’ll be Charity of the Year.
 

If you've been inspired by this article, please consider supporting the work we do.

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