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15th Jun, 2021

Macmillan Nurse Alison's plea to start talking about death

Correspondent 16th May, 2020

This week has been Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 11-17), a national campaign which aims to encourage people to become more comfortable talking about death and grief.

A local nurse is encouraging people to talk more openly about death and dying to avoid people experiencing complex psychological grief when a loved one has died.

Alison Robinson, Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, has been redeployed since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak to become the Lead for Bereavement Services across all three hospital sites, including the Alex.

“As a nation, we are not comfortable with death and dying,” she said.

“Being in a global pandemic has thrust death upon us swiftly and we may have found that at work and with our families, we have been talking more readily about it, not because we have wanted to, but because we have had no choice.

“Facing bereavement at any time is difficult. It is even more difficult in our current environment.

“Losing someone close to us can be devastating, and the opportunities lost by not having conversations about people’s final wishes can cause complex psychological and emotional distress for those left behind.

“We may think we have not abided by someone’s wishes or even had the chance to say something important.”

Macmillan Cancer Support is calling for everyone, at whatever stage of life they are, to be prepared for death.

Taking small but simple steps, such as figuring out what really matters to you when you die, can help you and your family prepare emotionally, practically and financially so you can get on with living life as fully as you can.

Adrienne Betteley, strategic adviser for end of life care at Macmillan said: “Uncertain’ is a word we’ve heard more than ever in recent weeks to describe the circumstances we are living through right now.

“We don’t like talking about death, and yet dying, death and bereavement will impact everyone’s lives.

“During this year’s Dying Matters Week, it has never felt more necessary to talk openly and honestly about death than it does now.’

Alison added: “We can only get more ‘comfortable’ by this happening more frequently. In schools, via social media, television and conversations at home – giving permission to talk about it, but also seeking views and thoughts.

“These conversations can sometimes be rushed, because they are so uncomfortable to have – but it is better than not knowing the wishes of someone you love, and what they would have wanted to happen.”

For more information on how to talk about death and dying, visit www.macmillan.org.uk/about-us/lets-talk-about-death .

People can also call the The Macmillan Support Line for free on 0808 808 00 00. The line is open seven days a week between 8am-8pm .

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