Having conversations with your nearest and dearest about your end of life wishes is one of THE most important aspects of end of life care.  Currently, most of those conversations happen in times of crisis, when the proverbial hits the fan and that is never going to allow for considered discussion.

Let’s be honest, having conversations about dying and death can be pretty confronting.  So much so that most people tend to avoid having them, or they will have them in the abstract, meaning when it’s not necessarily personal, it’s just the concept.

Two ways that these conversations can be started is to have some fun with them or come at them indirectly.  Even if the conversation continues to be in the abstract, there may just be something that triggers some deeper and more personal thought on the topic.

end of life conversations, spiritual palliative care

Have Some Fun

One of the techniques I love the most is funeral songs.  On the surface, you might think morbid.  Fair enough.  Do you still think that though if you found out that THE most popular song for funerals in the UK is Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life?  (Side note…who’s now whistling??)  Seriously, this is THE number one choice, based on over 30,000 funerals.  Here’s a list of the top five:

  1. Eric Idle/Monty Python – Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
  2. The Lord is My Shepherd – Psalm 23
  3. Henry Francis Lyte – Abide With Me
  4. BBC’s Match Of The Day Theme Tune (Soccer)
  5. Frank Sinatra – My Way

Ask the question – what song/s would you like played at your funeral?  You might be surprised at some of the answers.  One lady that did one of my Advance Care Planning Courses this year said she wanted Queen’s, Another One Bites The Dust.  It doesn’t have to be all serious – this is a celebration of your life, so it should be representative of you.  My music tastes are very varied and eclectic, so mine will be interesting!!

If you want to find out more about the songs – click here for the article where I sourced this information.

Come Indirectly

Another way is to approach the topic indirectly and this can be done using questions around people’s bucket lists or things to do lists.  Just about everybody has things they want to do, even if they don’t have a formal, written list.  And again, you could have some fun with this too, depending on the nature of people’s items.

end of life conversations, spiritual palliative care, death over dinner

Death Over Dinner

One more way to facilitate these conversations is to host a Death Over Dinner.  This is a project designed to get people talking about end of life matters and I am proud to be an Ambassador for it.  The Death Over Dinner websites has a truckload of great resources and a process to walk you through the steps for hosting.  You can host a family gathering, a social one or even with some work colleagues.  Click here to go to the Death Over Dinner website.

These conversations don’t need to be all doom and gloom.  They can be opportunities for irreverent laughter, deepening of connections, prompts for considered discussions and reflecting on personal wishes.

Would love you to share what songs would you like played at your funeral and/or what’s on your bucket list.

Peace & blessings, Sharon

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