BY JANE POCOCK, PRACTICE MANAGER AT BAYWEST MEDICAL CENTRE & MANLY VILLAGE MEDICAL
There is a day (August 8) on the ‘Health Events Calendar’, an annual day dedicated to creating conversations about death, dying and bereavement.
Death seems to be something that most people in Western culture don’t want to talk about. It can be an uncomfortable, confronting conversation, but dying is the one sure thing in our lives – we live now, and one day we will die.
I had the absolute privilege of being with my father for the last 48 hours of his life, holding his hand, speaking to him, playing his favourite Scottish music and then watching him take his last breath. It was heartbreaking and yet beautiful and comforting, seeing a man who had fought extremely hard against many injustices in life and who held onto as much control as he could right to the end of his life, to have to surrender to a process that none of us had any control over. That experience has been such a comfort to me in my grief, and I am always so grateful to have flown back to Zimbabwe at short notice to be with him in his dying moments.
Everyone who has experienced the passing of a loved one will have their own story, and there is always grief, and it is always complicated. I would love us to be more open about speaking about death and the impact that it has on us and our loved ones.
While we are living, it is good to be reminded that we should live our lives in a way that is authentic and true to who we are. A book that had an impact on me was 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. In a nutshell, the top five regrets that people express on their deathbeds are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard and spent more time with my family.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I had let myself be happier.
So, this August, let’s consider these points while we live our lives. With regard to death and dying conversations, if you need support, you can book in to see any of the doctors or psychologists at
Baywest Medical Centre or Manly Village Medical.
Here are some resources available to support you in speaking about death or grief: