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Hospice urges Kiwis to talk about death

“We really believe if we could talk about it more, we might all worry a bit less”

March 5, 2019

Rotorua Community Hospice is urging the community to talk about death more in the hope they might worry about it less.

Hospice Chief Executive, Jonathon Hagger said there was growing concern internationally that many communities are losing touch with the dying process, and the lack of information often resulted in fear.

“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.”

Rotorua Community Hospice has joined national body Hospice NZ in a nationwide campaign ‘We need to talk about dying’, aimed at helping communities to reclaim their familiarity with dying and reduce their worry.

The campaign aims to provide information about death and dying and to encourage people to talk about it more, including about any concerns they may have, what sort of care they want, and what a ‘good death’ means to them.

“New Zealand is about to make an important decision about whether to legalise assisted dying. It’s a big decision, it’s a matter of life or death. Rotorua Hospice doesn’t support assisted dying in any form, but putting aside our opinions on the Bill, we’re hearing a lot of fear and misinformation about death and dying in the community, and we don’t think that’s good for anyone,” Hagger said.

“Death is a process. We tend to know what’s going to happen, and our teams can support people through it. It’s usually not anywhere near as bad as they might be expecting. We hope that if we could talk about it more and get more familiar with what happens, that we might all worry a bit less.”

Hagger said Hospices hoped that improved conversations would also make people feel more ready and able to support friends and family who were grieving. “Dying involves a whole community, not just an individual, and we all have a role. We think it’s important to learn to talk about it while we’re well, so we don’t have to learn that difficult lesson as someone we love is dying,” he said.

Some suggested conversation starters with friends and family:

  1. The thing that most worries me about death (of me or a loved one) is… And this is what I can do to manage that worry
  2. Talk about a time when someone close to you was dying. What was positive about that? What was hard about that? What would you like done differently?
  3. What does ‘death with dignity’ mean to us?
  4. If someone we knew was dying (name friend / family / neighbour), what would be some good ways for us to help them and their family? What might they need? What would we say to them?
  5. If someone we loved was dying and we were offered the option to withdraw treatment other than to keep them comfortable, how would we know that was the right decision? Who would we talk to? Who would need to be involved in that decision?

Acknowledgements: Australian Palliative Care: Dying To Talk discussion starter

For more information, please contact 07 343 6591

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