How do we talk about it?
Hello, it's Sam here. Over the past two years at Spark the Difference, it's been a privilege to listen to people talk about what matters to them about giving and receiving care.
Without prompting, many of these conversations have turned to dying and death. People have shared what happens when people they care about, or for, die - and how this can have such a profound impact for years to come.
I've noticed that these conversations tend to be about what happened and people's reactions to this. The focus was often on what went wrong and what people wished was different. For one of the greatest certainties in life, it seems that we can be quite uncertain about how we would like things to be, before they happen.
Overall, I've heard two things:
1. People don't know how to talk about 'it'. We don't have an accessible ‘death vocabulary’. We can be uncomfortable, embarrassed or fearful of saying the wrong thing.
2. People often leave these conversations too late. Many wished they had spoken with loved ones over a cup of tea in the kitchen, rather than in an emergency room with a hospital consultant standing by, explaining what decisions need to be made.
If they could change one thing, it was to start a conversation sooner. Yes, the conversation will still be emotional and at times, may be difficult - but it wouldn't be urgent.