Take control of the final stages of your life with this useful guide of questions to ask and wishes to make known to your carers.
Thankfully it is now accepted that people approaching end of life should have a say, or at least be able to influence, how they are treated as they die.
However, a ‘good death’ has to be planned, and rather as mums to be are encouraged to have birth plans, those facing the end (or those responsible for them) should consider having a death plan so that, if possible, the last wishes are carried out.
Consider drafting a document, with these headings to guide you:
- I want to know: what you want to be told about your terminal state;
- I want to be in charge: what treatment you want (and don’t want) when dying, and who should administer it…this should be done in consultation with your GP or hospital specialist;
- I want to die there: where you want to die, so your home, holiday location, home of a loved one;
- I want you with me: who you want to be with you when you die;
- I want to see: unlike the anonymity of a hospital ward, in your final room you can have photographs of loved ones and places that have special importance to you;
- I want to hear: think of the solace and pleasure music, hymns, readings will give you;
- I want to smell: why not have scented oils and candles to make your final place as enjoyable as possible;
- I want to feel: would you like to have your hand held, or to be massaged or caressed in your final moments?;
- I want to taste: why not enjoy, if possible, excellent food and drink in your finals days;
- I want to look like: it will give you pride and dignity to be well dressed, and nicely made up, as the final hours approach;
- I want to be free of worries: ensure that everything possible has been sorted out before you die, so you can have a calm, happy state of mind.
Creating a death plan will enable you to discuss your end of life openly and honestly with your closest loved ones, your carers, your GP and medical specialists, and if appropriate a minister of faith.
It will help overcome the taboo about discussing death and dying, and is likely to result in a more dignified, comfortable and comforting death.
We only die once...and if at all possible, it should be a good death.
Writing a death plan
A death plan allows you to relieve the burden of decision making from the shoulders of those you love and creates the opportunity for a peaceful end of life.