Lets talk about death

We live in a society that does not like to talk about death and when people die it is treated as alien when in fact it is part of life. 

A report by The Grattan Institute published last year found that dying in Australia was more institutionalised than the rest of the world, with the majority of people dying in hospital or a residential care facility. Kerrie Noonan, a clinical psychologist specialising in palliative care said "We're not around death," Ms Noonan said. "Death is removed; it takes place in a hospital or a hospice. We don't have a context for having conversations about death."

I strongly believe that death needs to be discussed, we need share our plans with our loved ones and it needs to be seen as a normal part of living and not something morbid to only talk about in whispers. 

A community group called "The Groundswell Project" in Australia came together to create wider awareness about dying to help overcome reluctance to address the issue that will happen to each one of us. One of things the group did was come up with 10 things people need to know about death, whilst this group does not have a Christian focus, what they include in their list is still relevant. 

1. Make a plan. Fewer than 5% of people have an end of life plan.

2. Write a will. Only 55% of people who die have a will.

3. Tell someone what you want. Of those who know they are dying, only 25% will have spoken to their families about their wishes.

4. Only 30% of deaths are unexpected. Make a decision about how you want to die while you have time.

5. Doctors don't die like the rest of us. They are more likely to die at home with less invasive intervention at the end of their lives.

6. Earlier referral to palliative care means living longer with better quality of life.

7. You don't need a funeral director. DIY funerals are becoming more popular.

8. The majority of Australians choose cremation but there are alternatives including natural burial, burial at sea or donating your body for research.

9. We don't grieve in stages. Only 10% of us need professional support after a death.

10. 60% of people think we need to spend more time talking about death.

As they say on their blog "The more we talk, the less we fear" and that is a good reminder, many people are afraid of dying and therefore think that if they don't talk about it, it perhaps won't happen to them. 

Of course, for Christians, death takes us to Christ and that our journey at the end of our life is simply a departure from this world to something so much better.

"And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43)

We have nothing to fear with death as we know that through the door there will be — no more pain and suffering, no more tears, weariness, no more death, no more evil, no more sin, no more persecution, no more hunger  . . . 

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 

(John 14:2-3)



  1. Your post today had so much to think about. I hadn't thought about the way doctors make arrangements for care for themselves that is different than what most people experience at end of life.

    My daughter is an intensive care unit nurse. She has strongly suggested that I and my husband get advance directives for what is to be done if we are hospitalized and unable to communicate. The unit where she works is where many very seriously ill patients are in their last days. Often they are on life support, with no chance of recovery, but their family members cannot all agree whether or not it is time to let their loved one go. So the patient remains helpless, with no choice (or even awareness) as to what should be done. Yesterday my daughter was expecting an extremely difficult and sad day today because THE decision had been made. One of her patients was going to be taken off of life support today.

    I have told my family about some of the measures that I would want done or not done, but my husband and I have not had advance directives formally made yet. It is one of those things that keeps getting put off. I don't even know exactly how to go about having official advance directives done, and when we get them done, there are so many things to consider as to what procedures we would want done or not done. My daughter told me some of the procedures that are routinely done to save lives, extend lives, and some of the prolonged life support measures. It was mind boggling and frightening, and miraculous, if there is a chance of recovery with a decent quality of life. There are many degrees of quality of life before one reaches unconscious, non recovering state. I think that this type of planning takes a lot of very careful consideration, and is easier to talk about than to actually have put into writing. So we have had nothing done in writing, yet.

  2. Great post! I am totally in agreement that death must be discussed. I knew this, after working with the elderly and dying for 10 years, but it all became very real when my mother-in-law found out she has inoperable cancer this year. She had already made her wishes known, and so there was no brawling in the family, but she had a peaceful, dignified death - the way we all want it!
    The discussions about death can't start too early - no one knows how long they will live, and so it is not silly to discuss it in your 20's, or 30's etc. It makes life so much easier for your family, and while not everyone may be happy with the decisions made, if the decisions have been made - there should be no changing that!
    We can't imagine dying, we don't know how it will feel, or how it will happen - this also creates fear... We need to trust the Lord, what we fear most may well never occur...

    1. Your mother-in-law death sounds the way we would all want to go if we had a choose - Peaceful and dignified is the way to go. I can understand the fear - it frightens me at times, but this is the ultimate trust in the Lord isn't it? And even if the end of life isn't great - we know that the Lord is carrying us through the journey and we aren't alone.

  3. WOW!
    You rattled my thoughts! And so did the comments.

    "The more we talk, the less we fear"
    Oh, so true.

    1. Time to start planning!! Some people find planning very hard as it reminds them that they won't last forever and they will die one day and its a topic they can't face. But we just need to accept that it is going to happen and just accept it as part of living !!!

  4. Yes, this is an important subject to talk about. I struggle with it more as my parents are getting older.

    Speaking of young people being prepared as well as older: my family knew a young man years ago who died in his 20s in a car accident (skidded on ice and rolled his truck). His parents learned that he had life insurance on all his outstanding debts (he collected vintage cars), and his bank accounts were set up so that upon his death his parents had instant access to them, and I think there was a will. He had taken care of everything he could think of. For such a young man it was amazing; but also sad that it had to be used. He was a Christian so he went to Heaven, but it was very hard on his family. His father had a very hard time getting past it.

    1. I can imagine, it must have been a terrible shock to the family of this young man - but what a wise man to have everything prepared, something we can all learn from. I have heard it many times from children of older parents, trying to get them to down size and start to sort out their affairs. Many parents have already paid for their funeral and organised it all to make such it won't be a financial burden to us children.

  5. Even as a Christian, death is still a difficult subject. And the fear that is involved (for me at least) isn't fear for myself when I die (I know where I'm going!), but rather a fear for how my family will handle my absence.... Not because I think I'm so important that they can't go on without me, but because I know the pain brought by the loss of my mother - it's not easy, even when you know they have gone somewhere much better! There is still the hard business of living WITHOUT a mother. And so it is that side of things that makes it something that I end up having to pray about a lot because it can lead to great fear for me. I'm not entirely sure that anyone can fully prepare either themselves or their loved ones for death or the death of a loved one - it is something we cannot possibly imagine because of all the unknowns. But... all the more reason to lean on the Lord and learn to leave it with Him and trust Him!

    1. I can remember thinking about death and dying when my children were young and that certainly caused me moments of concern - all the "what ifs" that one thinks about. It is an unknown but it is also the ultimate time of trust in the Lord - in fact, we don't have any choose. I think just starting the conversation is always very positive and constructive.

  6. You bring up a good point in your post that many people, myself included, that don't want to consider. What's sad, is I watched my mom die and she planned out every detail of her death. She made it EASY for me. Here I am and haven't even come close to preparing anyone for it should it happen to me. You've definitely given us something to think about and consider. Thank you for touching on a topic that not very many people want to discuss.

    Thank you for sharing it on the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkUp. I hope to see you again next week.

    1. its one of those topics that we all participate in but don't want to talk about. Whereas 100 years ago, people were much more accepting of the inevitable. How times have changed. So sad to hear about your mum, but what a wonderful example she left you :)


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