Talking about death and grief is never an easy conversation, but it is an important one. This is why Hospice UK holds Dying Matters Awareness Week every year to encourage people to get talking and remove the discomfort surrounding these difficult conversations. This year it falls on the 8th to the 14th of May.
One of the most important things that comes from this week is to remove the stigma around death and grief. These topics can be a very isolating, and Dying Matters Awareness Week looks to help normalise talking about them and supporting affected individuals at the toughest of times. This is not always an easy thing to do but there are many resources which can help. One place you can find help is via the Hospice UK website, where they have specialist information on end of life care and bereavement.
At Ellisons, we have recently launched our Podcast, Ellisons Connects, and there is one podcast in particular, hosted by Ellisons’ Head of Family, Lisa Dawson, and Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate, Nicola Weldon, which discusses mental wellbeing when going through a major life change such as a bereavement or a terminal illness. You can listen to the podcast here.
One conversation that Dying Matters Awareness Week may spark, is regarding your end-of-life care wishes. Whilst this is often seen as a bit of a taboo topic, talking about this with your loved ones means you can be sure that your wishes will be known and respected, if you are unable to communicate them in the future. You may wish to appoint your trusted person as being legally responsible for making these end-of-life decisions for you, to avoid the stress of consent in an already distressing situation. This can all be taken care of within a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, which gives someone of your choosing the right to make decisions on your behalf and in your best interest if you no longer can. Whilst a Health and Welfare LPA governs day-to-day matters and decisions, it also allows you to record any particular wishes or instructions for your attorneys, including, for example, any wishes in relation to resuscitation and end-of-life treatment.
Another discussion that may be prompted by Dying Matters Awareness Week is in relation to what may happen after someone passes away. This is a very different experience for everyone, but one way to make this period less stressful for your loved ones, is to make sure you have a valid Will which incorporates all of your wishes, including your funeral wishes, who you wish to leave gifts to, and who you would like to deal with your estate. For your loved ones, knowing you have a Will and where it is stored can take one pressure off when going through a really difficult time.
Whilst discussing death and grief may not be a comfortable topic, Dying Matters Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity for you and those around you to start the conversation and help us all be more at ease talking about it.
If you have any queries regarding Dying Matters Awareness Week or preparing Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney, then please get in touch with our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team who would be happy to discuss this further.