We need to talk about dying

With the help of Hospice New Zealand, we want to support Wellingtonians to have more conversations about death in the hope they might worry about it less. Death seems to have become a difficult topic for a lot of people. Many of us have lost the knowledge about what happens, what to say to each other, and the options we have for care. That lack of information often results in fear. But dying is often much more peaceful and gentle than people expect.

We need to talk about dying’ aims to support communities to reclaim their familiarity with dying by sharing stories and information and to make it easy for them to talk about it more, and to ensure we all feel more ready and able to support each other when we’re grieving. Death is a social experience, and we all have a role. We need to talk about dying.

How you can get involved:
Watch – watch the below videos, hear what Mary, Pete and Margaret, Stu and Pam have to say about death, dying and living.
Share – please help others by sharing this content on social media and be part of the conversation. #weneedtotalkaboutdying
Talk – to your friends and family – what is important to you when you think about your end of life?
Use – the resources – do you know someone who is unwell, someone whose loved one has just died – use the five things to help to know what to say or do to support them.
Plan – consider creating an advance care plan

Meet Mary

Mary has been a palliative care nurse for 20 years, and says everyone experiences dying in different ways. “What I see in the work that I do is an immense coming together of families and people and friends. I don’t see really grandiose ideas of wanting to fly to Paris.

It’s smaller things of being together, say what I want to say, do what I want to do.” She says that working with people at the end of their lives is a tremendous privilege. “I realise that life is precious, and we have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. I just celebrate every day. Anyone that’s involved in hospice in some way, it cannot help but change your life for the better.

Watch Mary share her thoughts on death, dying and living here.

Meet Pete and Margaret

Pete is using hospice services and Margaret cares for him at home.  Pete says it has been a difficult process to come to terms with the physical change from being very fit to being unwell.“There’s nothing I can do about it except try and make it into a journey.”  Margaret says that as a carer, it’s important to take it one day at a time, build memories together, and take care of yourself as well. “You can’t isolate yourself through something like this, you’ve got to make an effort to surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive and kind and understanding.”Watch Pete and Margaret share their thoughts on death, dying and living here.

Meet Pam

Pam and her husband Brent knew for 16 years that he could die at any time of heart failure. “Sometimes it was positive and sometimes it would get sad. It’s something that for us was a reality and we had to face it sooner or later. There was no point in hiding from it. You’ve got to just enjoy what you have got.”

Brent used to worry that he was a burden on Pam and his family, but Pam didn’t see it that way. “I used to say, ‘We’d rather have you here’. Yes, I gave up years to look after him, but I wouldn’t change it for all the world. People don’t like talking about death, but it’s part of life.” she says.

Watch Pam share her thoughts on death, dying and living here.

Meet Stu

Stu is currently using hospice services to support him and his family.  Stu had expected he’d be still working in his business until he received his diagnosis. But although his circumstances have changed, his attitude remains utterly positive. He sees he has plenty of control about how that happens and how he feels about it.

“If we have something negative hit our family unit, we go ‘bugger’ and move on. We don’t let it beat us up,” he says. “If my number’s come up on this ride, I’d go ‘Hey, I’m happy with that. I’m not going to rock the boat. I’m just going to enjoy what’s remaining in front of me and call them privileges.”

Watch Stu share his thoughts on death, dying and living here.