In looking for something interesting to post for this week, I came across this article from “The Sydney Morning Herald” entitled, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Death but Were too Afraid to Ask.” Even though this was written and published half a world away, a quote from this article brought to the forefront how universal the hesitancy to discuss death, or death related issues is: “There is a social stigma about death,” she said. “You can't talk about death in a healthy, positive way. If you are talking about death you must be weird or morbid.”
This quote is right on target when it comes to talking with someone about death. We see grievers constantly who tell us that friends, family members, and co-workers tell them to “stop talking about that” when they begin talking about a deceased loved one. If you are not new to the conversation we have here, you already know the insensitivity these type of remarks heap upon the heads of already distraught grievers. If you ARE new to our conversation, I simply want to reiterate that allowing a griever to talk about a deceased loved one WHEN they are ready to talk is a very therapeutic thing to do. By removing the stigma of death and opening up the channels of communication, we are forging a way for healing that most grievers will thank us for later.
Another area of concern that this article brings up is the conversation that needs to be had before the death of a loved one. Statistics show that we are all going to die. Death is a reality of life as a human and, as such, we should be properly prepared for it. Planning ahead, knowing what your loved one wants when they die, and even planning certain details of the funeral itself, provides a much healthier environment for those we leave behind. This forethought greatly reduces the stress of the funeral planning process and allows survivors to spend more time processing their grief rather than shuffling through paperwork. This helpful article lists what it calls, “10 Things to Know Before You Go.” I have relisted their recommended 10 things below:
Things to know before you go:
1. Make a plan. Fewer than 5 per cent of people have an end of life plan.
2. Write a will. Only 55 per cent of people who die have a will.
3. Tell someone what you want. Of those who know they are dying, only 25 per cent will have spoken to their families about their wishes.
4. Only 30 per cent of deaths are unexpected. Make a decision about how you want to die while you have time.
5. Doctors don't die like the rest of us. They are more likely to die at home with less invasive intervention at the end of their lives.
6. Earlier referral to palliative care means living longer with better quality of life.
7. You don't need a funeral director. DIY funerals are becoming more popular.
8. The majority of Australians choose cremation but there are alternatives including natural burial, burial at sea or donating your body for research.
9. We don't grieve in stages. Only 10 per cent of us need professional support after a death.
10. 60 per cent of people think we need to spend more time talking about death.
While these “10 Things” are written from the perspective of Australians, it is interesting to note that many of them work for us here in the United States as well. In regards to number 7: while we are seeing new trends in California for at-home preparation of the deceased and in-home visitation and funerals, for the most part, in the USA, a funeral director is highly recommended to assist in the process of end-of-life decisions. In regards to number 8: cremation in our area of the country is becoming more and more popular and is expected to make up over half of all final dispositions in the upcoming years. That being said, it is important to note that just because you choose cremation does not mean that you cannot have the proper ceremony you need for the beginning of proper grief and mourning. A professional funeral director is vital in guiding you down this daunting, and often overwhelming, path.
No matter where you live in the world, it is important to remember that healthy grieving involves proper remembrance, and how you choose to remember your deceased loved one should never be dictated by someone else. Plan ahead, talk a lot, and surround yourself with people who are willing to allow you the time you need to process your loss.
To read the complete article from The Sydney Morning Herald, follow this link: http://bit.ly/1MDHLIC. It even has a small video which you may find informative.
At Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home we have dedicated staff to helping pre-plan most end-of-life decisions. For more information, contact Kari Saunchegraw at 770-786-7062.