4th May 2022

Opening up difficult conversations

Meet Alizah, a Specialist Palliative Care Social Worker in our Family Support Team.

This Dying Matters Week, Alizah explains why it’s so important to talk about – and plan for – the end of our lives.

Alizah Pervez, Social Worker

“The topic of death is often regarded a ‘taboo’ topic,” she writes.

“Many of us discuss our plans, dreams and hopes for life – but have you considered your wishes, views, or apprehensions about your death?

“If we never talk about our wishes for the end of our lives, how can we ensure they will be met?

“The theme of Dying Matters Week looks at what it means to be ‘in a good place to die’.

“Although death itself is certain, the topic of death is very subjective. Everyone has their own feelings and beliefs on what it means to be in a good place to die.

“It is important to talk about these to ensure those around us understand what is important to us if we were to ever become unwell.

“Examples of topics explored with those we work with at St Richard’s include:

  • Discussing the preferred place of death
  • Who they would like to spend time with
  • Funeral wishes
  • Wishes for family, friends, pets and their community
  • Their spiritual needs
  • Comfort in regards to reducing pain and distress

“We support our patients to be in a good place to die – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – whether this is at home, or at the hospice.

“Over the past two years of the pandemic, the topic of death has been broadcast in the media more than ever.

“It is estimated almost 70,000 people have died at home without access to specialist care – putting increased pressure upon families and those who are unwell.

“And, it is apparent Covid-19 has increased the complexity of grief people experience. This is something we see through supporting bereaved adults and children at St Richard’s Hospice.

“Many young people have been left confused with unanswered questions and overwhelming emotions following the death of a parent or loved one.

“Through opening conversations in regard to dying – and our wishes surrounding challenging times – it will allow safe spaces to help children and adults feel more prepared, and hopefully reduce uncertainty.

“The knowledge of death, dying and bereavement shared by the adults and children we work with often holds bias.

“But, through that bias we can expand our understanding to make positive changes, reduce stigmas surrounding death, and help to manage complicated grief.”

Talking about dying isn’t easy, but it matters.

You might need to talk about the type of care you’d like towards the end of your life, funeral arrangements, your Will and more.

Visit our Dying Matters page for some great resources on how to start those difficult conversations.