Dealing with death, loss and grief is one of the few certainties in life, but that doesn’t make it easy. We feel discomfort when dealing with death; not only are we filled with sorrow but we’re also ill-equipped to have those uncomfortable conversations.
This is where death literacy comes in, which is the knowledge and skills that people need to understand and make informed choices about end of life and death care options. People who are highly death literate have less fear about death and other people dying.
Let’s talk about death.
Death is such a taboo, so we avoid thinking and talking about it until we are faced with losing a loved one, or even our own mortality. But this prevents us from leading a full life.
A fear of dying is entirely normal, but the unfortunate reality is that this fear can prevent us from not only truly living, but also thinking and talking about death. This can lead to being ill-prepared for our own end of life, and not having any funeral wishes or an Advance Care Directive in place.
An Advance Care Directive, or “Living Will”, is a legal estate planning document that allows you to outline your wishes and preferences when it comes to future medical treatment and end-of-life planning.
Advance Care Directives are a perfect example of the lack of death literacy in Australia. The Death Literacy Index Report found that factual knowledge about legal and administrative processes was one of the weakest aspects of our death literacy in Australia. So many of us don’t know what an Advance Care Directive is, or how to use it, or what it means in the context of caring for a sick loved one.
Being death literate can help us prepare for end-of-life.
At Bare, we chat to a lot of our prepaid customers to hear their reasons for booking a prepaid funeral and preparing for the end-of-life in advance.
Whilst there are a range of benefits, most people aren’t prompted to consider their own funeral until they are faced with their own experience of planning one for a loved one, which often becomes a grief-fuelled, expensive and difficult process.
Just watch Veronica’s story. She only started thinking about what would happen if she passed away after a disingenuous experience planning her parents’ funerals. From this you can begin to understand why we need more death literacy and future planning.
Most of us won’t go out of our way to complete life admin tasks like a check up to the doctor, writing a Will or planning for end-of-life unless something prompts us to do so.
Death literacy promotes open and honest communication about end-of-life, and careful consideration about what we want our last days to look like.
Tips on becoming more death literate.
There are a few different ways we can work on our death literacy.
1. Consider your end of life care.
The first is sitting down and asking yourself a few questions about your own end-of-life. If you were faced with the fact that you were dying, would you:
- Want to stay in palliative care?
- Choosing hospital care?
- Stay in the comfort of your own home as long as possible?
Other questions to consider is if you would like to appoint a medical decision maker in case you are no longer able to, and any ways you can prepare for your death.
Facing your own mortality can be depressing, but it has the potential to be a very real reality, so it’s good to be prepared.
2. Think about your own funeral.
We don’t often think about our own funeral until we plan or attend one that shows us what we would want to do differently. When considering what you want your funeral to look like, you can think about the following:
- If you wish to be cremated or buried?
- What style of funeral/memorial would you like?
- Where would you like your funeral/memorial to be held?
- Any songs or music you would like to include?
- For cremation, do you have any wishes for your ashes?
- For burial, where do you want to be buried, and next to anyone?
Here at Bare, we can help you prepare with a prepaid funeral. Not only does a prepaid funeral allow you to have a say in your farewell, you can also relieve the financial and emotional burden off your family, so they don’t have to race around organising a funeral after you’ve passed away.
3. Talking to family and friends.
The next step towards higher death literacy is having these conversations with friends and family. Yes, this might feel even more uncomfortable, but encouraging death literacy within our society grows from these conversations.
Sharing thoughts and wishes about end-of-life with loved ones not only helps them consider what they would want, but also just generally makes them aware of wishes, so they can properly execute them if and when the time comes.
Final thoughts on death literacy.
Becoming more death literate starts with being uncomfortable. It’s not until we sit with these feelings and begin to educate ourselves that death literacy can shape the decisions we make about the care we receive, as well as our ability to care for others.
If this article resonates with you, and you believe it would be helpful to somebody in your life, please share it with them! Our blogs are a completely free resource which we endeavour to help as many people as we can with this information.
If you would like to learn more about preparing for end-of-life with a prepaid funeral, you can click this link or give us a call at 1800 202 901.