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Death – one of life’s certainties

02 May 2012


Staff at Southend University Hospital will be breaking taboos later this month when they encourage patients, visitors and colleagues to start talking about death.

Unlike other cultures, we are notoriously reluctant in this country to face the inevitable so that, when a loved one does die, we are left totally unprepared.

The hospital'sDying Mattersday onTuesday, May 15aims to start breaking down those barriers by bringing death to life.

The theme of the event is 'small actions, big difference'. Visitors to the exhibition in thehospital's old board room on the ground floorof the Prittlewell wingwill be able to pick up postcards and list their five top things to do before they die. Free pens will even be available so there will be no excuses!

Wendy Warner, palliative care lead nurse, said: "Visitors can take the cards away to think about their wishes, or fill them in and leave them with us - it is entirely up to them.

"Death, dying andbereavementare traditionally not things we talk much about. But it is important to have a discussion, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones. It is an added stress if they do not know their loved one's wishes. "

Dying MattersWeek runs nationally from May 14 to 20. Things to think about include:

  • where and how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives
  • the need to grant power of attorney
  • helping others to live on - donating tissue or organs
  •  what sort of funeral we would like
  •  preference for floral tributes or donations to a favourite charity,
  • arrangements for looking after loved ones, including pets
  • making a will

Representatives from funeral directors, solicitors and will-writing experts will join with the hospital's palliative care, counselling andbereavementspecialists at the exhibition to chat and advise visitors.

There will also be a chance to look round the hospital's dedicatedbereavementsuite where grieving families can find solace and practical help when a death occurs in the hospital, including registration facilities. And members of the chaplaincy team will be on hand to show visitors around the hospital's chapel and multi-faith room.

Wendy added: "Here at Southend University Hospital, we have been doing a great deal of work to meet the needs of patients nearing the end of their lives.

"We hope that ourDying Mattersday will prompt people to reflect on the inevitable, ensuring that their care wishes are respected, things are not left to chance and their wishes are known. It can give real peace of mind to everyone - themselves and their families."

Everyone is welcome to come along to the exhibition, which runs from 09.00 to 15.00 and chat to staff andbereavementvolunteers. It is a small action - but it could make a big difference.