Dying to Know

It was Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789 who wrote, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. Now I am not going to talk about an America constitutional crisis or taxes, but death. 

8 August is ‘Dying to Know’ Day (D2KD). It’s about encouraging useful, healthy and honest conversations about the one thing all humans have in common — dying.  Inspired by the quirky self-help book Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life by Andrew Anastasios, an Australian organisation called the Groundswell Project decided to dedicate the day to destigmatise the topic and encourage people to plan for their death and those important to them.

Now you might say, I am young and basically plan to live forever. But, as Groucho Marx (American comedian and actor) said “I intend to live forever, or die trying”. You might have a fatal accident or allergic reaction. Even some snake and insect bites can be fatal. Does your family and friends know what you would want? So, take this day to give dying some thought, even if you think its decades away. And also think about the death of the loved ones around you. If you are fortunate to still you’re your parents or other older relatives, do you know what you would need to know to organise a funeral and honour their wishes.

Practical things you can do include writing a will and obituary, discussing end-of-life plans, planning a funeral (burial / cremation, religious / secular), what insurances or other financial arrangements need to be made, where important documents are kept. One other task you might want to consider is to write letter to loved one that would be opened after you pass. These can include a few words of love, appreciation and perhaps some advice or guidance.

A funeral is an important ceremony in life and it deserves some thought and planning. As Suleika Jaouad (American writer, advocate and motivational speaker.) put it, “We have birthdays and bar mitzvahs and funerals and weddings. And these ceremonies and rituals, I believe, really help us transition from one point to another”.

Approaching the topic of death with loved ones can be difficult. There remains a stigma and taboos around talking openly about death. So, be prepared for some reluctance or stilted response. But be determined. You might want to explain why you’re interested in having the conversation, reassure them that you just want the best for everyone.

Feelings of lose and grief are inevitable no matter how well prepared you are for the death of a loved one. And grief affects us all differently. If you are struggling with the death of a loved one or your own following a diagnosis then hypnotherapy can help in several ways. Contact me for more information.


Grief Awareness

National Grief Awareness week is 2 – 8 December. It is an annual event organised by the Good Grief Trust, a UK charity run by the bereaved for the bereaved. Their aim is to encourage everyone to have an open, honest and straightforward dialogue about grief. The idea is to help ease the pain and make life a little bit more bearable for these experiencing the grieving process. As Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman Statesman) said, “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief”.

There are approximately 650,000 deaths in the UK each year. So, at some point we will all be faced with the death of someone close to us. And the recent pandemic has, for some of us, meant we have had to face this experience in less than ideal times. The awareness week has several key messages to hope those who are bereaved and those close to them.

Distance shouldn’t mean we can’t share our grief. The pandemic has meant that the bereaved have not been able to reach out to family and friends for a much needed human connection. But, by using technology, distance should not prevent us from being there for others and sharing our grief.

Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I am not grieving. The bereaved often feel they have to mask their grief from family, friends and colleagues, so as not to burden them. If you know someone has experienced a loss, look out for them, check they are OK. They may seem alright, they may seem back to normal, but deep inside they could be struggling and would appreciate a chat or your help and understanding.

Say their name, I’m thinking about them anyway. You may be afraid to mention the person’s name who has died. We worry that this may upset our friend or family member, but it is normally the opposite. By remembering them and talking about them you are helping to share your love and affection for that person. This is important and will let those grieving to know that you will help to keep their memory alive.

There is no one face of grief. Grief does not discriminate, it is very likely we will all be affected by a bereavement regardless of age, faith, culture and wealth. Specifically, we need to help all minority groups who are often stigmatised and help to support anyone, anywhere who needs it.

There is no set time to grieve. Some say that you get over grief or eventually move on. While the effects of grief will lessen over time you never really get over a loss. Once the practical parts of a bereavement, such as a funeral, are over, things get back to normal. But this is often the time when the bereaved most need support, when they can feel most alone and isolated.

I think Terri Irwin (Australian Naturalist) put it very well when she said, “Grief is never something you get over. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘I’ve conquered that; now I’m moving on.’ It’s something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honour the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity”.

So if you know someone who has been bereaved, lend an ear or a thoughtful message and be there for them. Hypnotherapy has several techniques that can help those struggling with a recent loss. If you or someone you know could benefit from hypnotherapy then contact me.


Are you in a good place to die?

2020 was a year that seemed to be over shadowed by death and dying and although the UK and some other parts of the world are in a better place now, 2021 is not much better in places like India and Brazil.

Dying Matters has around 12,000 members, and are actively seeking those that are committed to supporting changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around dying, death and bereavement. Crucially, they want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place.

This year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week runs from Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May.  The idea is to open up conversations about death, dying and bereavement. The focus this year is on the importance of being in a good place to die and how you and your loved ones can plan for the end of life. There are five aspects of being in a good place to die.

Physically. Where people die is changing. More people than ever are dying at home and the pandemic has seen this trend increase. Have you thought about this?

Emotionally. Have you had an open and honest conversation about dying, how it would affect you and your family and associated feelings and emotions?

Financially. Is there a will? Are their wishes clear and well understood? Have you given any thought to the funeral? Remember that at the moment there is a limit to how many people can attend a funeral or wake. Are finances, insurance policies and other matters in order?

Spiritually. Are they at peace with their family, friends and beliefs? Are there any last wishes, desires or tasks to complete?

Digitally. Has access to social media, online banking and other digital matters been thought about?

If you are struggling with any aspect of death, dying or loss then Hypnotherapy can be very useful in a number of ways. These can include reducing the symptoms of grief, helping to find a way to grieve that doesn’t overwhelm you, changing your perception of the loss, help for you to deal with feelings of (survivors) guilty or regret and empower you to reconnect to memories of the person without painful feelings or distress. If you are struggling with a loss or bereavement click here to contact me.