Talking about death is difficult. It’s an annual conversation for me and my mum.
Last year she decided that organ donation was not for her. This year she has changed her mind. She is thinking differently about who she wants involved in organising her funeral, however she is consistent in where she wants to die – at home.
Mum neither believes that she is old (she is 81), nor that she will die. She does not really believe that she is immortal, but as there are no signs that this is imminent, talking about death, in her view, is morose and unnecessary. Despite that, each year she and I sit with her ‘Living Well and planning for the end of your life’, and she updates it. Our annual routine is completed with a cup of tea and a cake at our favourite garden centre.
This year we did a one-page summary too, in the style that Max is leading.
I am a proud member of the #MaxEOLC team, with my friends and colleagues Sarah, Sharon and Philip. Together with Max we are exploring a one-page summary of end of life wishes. Here is Max talking about it.
We are all trying this one-page summary – with family and in our work, to learn what works. Then we are sharing what we are learning through at twitchat in March to work on the next version with whoever wants to join us – a version of crowdsourcing the next stage.
Mum already had a one-page profile, developed after a spell in hospital. In essence we were updating this and adding two other sections about what she wanted and did not want around the end of her life. This was easy to take from the ‘Living Well’ and is almost an executive summary.
I agree with Davis, in a recent Guardian article – these conversations are difficult but imperative.
“It is our responsibility – all of our responsibility – to find the person behind the patient in the bed,” Davis says. “One way of another, we have to have these conversations”
But can we do it before the person is a patient in a bed? Vicky Worsnop makes the powerful point:
“I was asked about plans if I die by my mortgage advisor, why not by my GP?”
Similarly, it is my financial advisor for is asking me about my plans for the end of my life. I hope that we can get to a place where solicitors and financial advisors, routinely hand out something like ‘Living Well’, encouraging people to talk about it with their loved ones. I hope that the one-page summary that Max has pioneered is a one-page summary of that discussion. I hope that we start to see families making sure that this one-page summary of what matters to someone in life and death goes with people into hospital, so that health staff instantly can ‘find the person behind the patient’ in life and death.
If you know of any solicitors or mortgage advisors who would be interested…please let me know.