Dying to know

Death is a part of life, but 75% of Australians don’t speak to their loved ones about their wishes.

For many of us death is an uncomfortable topic, which we often shy away from talking about. But not speaking about it means most of us don’t have a proper plan in place for our passing.

Death talking

Not for profit organisation The Groundswell Project says talking about death shouldn’t be something morbid or taboo, but seen as an important part of life.

“There are always people who are anxious about death and that’s understandable. But for the most part it’s such a significant life event that people really do want to shine a light on it more than we have in the past,” says Groundswells Director Kerrie Noonan.

“Once we start to learn to break the ice about these issues it does get easier.” 

What is a good death?

According to Ms Noonan a good death is different for everyone  and relates to what is important to someone in their life.  

grave yard

How to have the conversation

For many of us having the conversation with a loved one is difficult and confronting. If you’re struggling, Ms Noonan’s advice is to be open and genuine with your loved ones.

“You might even go to someone and say ‘I don’t know how to raise this with you’ or ‘I’m a bit worried about raising this with you, but it’s such an important conversation to have because you’re valued and your wishes are important to me,” says Ms Noonan.

Sometimes it’s useful to use related topics to help you broach the subject. 

“It might be that you’ve read something on organ and tissue donation and [then] try to bring the conversation around to [a] personal experience,” she says.

Making a living will

A living will or an advanced care plan is about mapping out the types of care you want to receive, or don’t want to receive, if you become seriously unwell to the point you are unable to speak for yourself.

The idea is to take control of your care before it’s too late, so that your loved ones are clear how they can ensure your wishes are met.

 “It’s not the document, it’s not the piece of paper, it’s about the conversation,” says Ms Noonan.

“It’s talking about their values and what’s important and what’s meaningful to people at the end of their life.” 
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