A blog about death and dying - by Marion Foreman, former cancer nurse and patient group chair,
"I really don’t want to be morbid – but we are all going to die. It’s inevitable. However fit and healthy we are right now, eventually, we will die. Of course, the where, when and how is unknown.
Maybe we don’t want to talk about it or even to think about it – please leave this page if the very thought of death is not possible.
This section is for people who want to know more and be a bit in control of what might happen.
A little bit of background. My (now ex) husband has stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma (life limiting skin cancer) and at one point had a prognosis of one year. Immunotherapy changed that but we were faced with the very real possibility of his death. He started saying things like ‘I want this …. at my funeral’ and ‘don’t let this happen to me’ along with ‘the bank details are…..’ And I felt totally overwhelmed. I was bogged down trying to remember so much. So – we did some planning – and do you know what? He felt better as he knew that his wishes could be met and I felt better as I didn’t have to remember endless details. It meant that we could concentrate on the ‘here and now’ much more easily.
A bit more background? I now live on my own and am very clear what I want to happen as I get older. Before you do too much planning – there are guidelines – there are things that you can’t ask for – so take advice – more about that later. So I set about making it clear to my family what their roles will be.
I started with my Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) – there are two types of LPA – one for my money (Finance LPA) and one for my wishes for my treatment (Health & Wellbeing LPA). You can do both of these with a solicitor – but my research showed that to be expensive. Instead I used the government website Make, register or end a lasting power of attorney - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
And I have to say it was very simple. The forms are straight forward and easy to complete on line (I’m not very tech savvy – so if I can do it – anyone can) – then you print them off and get those involved to sign them – send them to be registered and its done. Why did I bother? Because now I know that if anything happens to me then my eldest two children (I have 4) know what is expected of them. They can access my money if I can’t and they know what decisions I would like made about my healthcare if I am unable to speak for myself. Of course, I have discussed this with them, not just sent them documents.
And how do I feel now? To be honest – it’s a weight off my mind.
And the good news? I am happy to report that thinking about my death doesn’t hasten it!"
What happens when a person is dying of cancer? Patients often want to know what happens to their body at end of life. What they will feel and what they will experience.
CRUK's head information nurse talks in The Guardian about how attitudes and approaches to discussing death have changed over the decades. Now, we are much more open about raising the topic and discussing it. It is considered important to be able to talk about the topic. Patients and relatives need to be able to ask the questions they need to ask and feel more reassured about they will experience.
There are many questions left unanswered and many topics still being researched, such as looking at the mechanisms that cause death, the physiological changes, and the changes to the immune system.
Read about this thought-provoking topic in The Guardian, in association with Cancer Research UK.