7th May 2015

Whose death is it anyway?

A thought for Dying Matters week (May 17th – 23rd)

There are many people with very strong views on what makes for a good death. Much of it boils down to being a description of what they themselves would hope for. Perhaps a good death involves being surrounded by friends and family, or, alternatively, to have lots of peace and quiet; maybe it’s to be given all the information about what is happening to you, or perhaps you’d prefer not to know much; maybe it’s planning your funeral in advance or, maybe you can’t imagine anything worse!

There are some things that nearly everyone shares, like being kept pain free. Although even that isn’t universal, with some believing that pain serves an important (often religious) function and, within reason, should be accepted. Perhaps the only certain thing is that you are the one and only world expert on what would be a good death for you. We should all be able to all die as we have lived: uniquely and in character.

Here’s another certainty: you are much more likely to get the death you want if you give it some thought and then, share your thoughts with someone else.

Dying Matters Week is a short time devoted to encouraging all of us to think about what we would want when our lives draw to a close. It’s not weird or depressing to do this: it’s sensible. It may even be life-enhancing to spend time recognising that all of us will die, including you and I. Perhaps by considering our limited time, we will learn to focus more on really important things like being ourselves, being happy and, worrying less.

David Knight, Chaplain