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Informal talk about death

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April 14, 2018

Death is on the agenda next week at a Dying to Know Day held at Mercy Place, Shepparton.

The initiative, run in conjunction with National Advance Care Planning Week, encourages people to have conversations with others about the end of their lives.

Mercy Place pastoral care nurses Loretta Lilford and Anthony Kilmartin organised the day as an opportunity for open discussion in a comfortable setting.

‘‘We will have all the information here and relevant people who have got the skills to be able to answer any hard questions people might have in their heart about death,’’ Ms Lilford said.

‘‘It is a really comfortable place, there is no formal talk.

‘‘People can pop in if they feel there is something they want to ask or if they don’t want to ask anything but just pick up a little bit of information.’’

Having worked in palliative care for more than 30 years, Ms Lilford said the topic of death should not be ignored, but rather welcomed and openly discussed between people and their family members.

She believes people should be encouraged to have the difficult conversations early before it becomes too late.

‘‘We’re a death-denying society, we don’t just come out and have those conversations,’’ she said.

‘‘Death is an integral part of life ... so we need to know people’s wishes and values so that we can provide the type of care that meets those and respects their preferences.’’

Information regarding palliative care, pastoral care and advance care planning will be available on the day along with representatives from hospice care and the funeral industry.

The event will be the first time Mercy Place has held a Dying to Know Day, which is open to everyone in the community.

With National Advance Care Planning Week running from April 16 to 22, Ms Lilford said it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the week.

‘‘It is a sad topic but talking about dying doesn’t make you die,’’ she said.

‘‘When people do speak about death it can be very gentle, something not to be feared but rather something that can be another very important shared family and friend moment.’’

Ms Lilford said she hoped the day allowed people to feel more comfortable talking about the future and hearing and seeing what options are out there.

‘‘I can’t change anything to do with a person’s prognosis but I can do something about walking the walk with them,’’ she said.

‘‘I think it is great if we can help people feel that what is unspoken is more fearful than what they may hear.’’

Dying to Know Day will be held at Mercy Place next Thursday, April 19 from 10am to noon. Everyone is welcome to attend.

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