Read below our CEO Val Stangoe’s thoughts on today’s Dying Matters Theme ‘Diversity and Inclusion at end of life’.
Death comes to everyone. You read it here. No, you won’t be spared because of religion or race, there is no different option depending on income, sex or sexuality. You can’t halt progress and you can’t avoid death (I’d mention taxes but it seems nowadays that can be a more flexible option).
That said, death impacts in different ways depending on who you are. Is the impact the same if I lose a partner when I am thirty or when I’m eighty? Is losing my same gender lover who could never be spoken about at work the same as losing the husband who my workmates met at my wedding? I think we’d all expect that some things would be the same and some things would be different. Every life has a unique shape and to each of us different things matter.
So we not only need support services which are inclusive and open to everyone but also that are diverse and able to flex to meet the different needs of those individuals. Definitely not one size fits all.
So what is the amazingly clever way to do this? The secret science to knowing how to care for each individual? Actually it’s really simple. It involves listening to them. To what they want and need, what they feel and don’t feel. To what’s important to them. Listening for what matters.
Well, being listened to is a good option when you’re in the room and able to share your opinions. But what happens if something unexpected stops you from being able to share this important things? In that case it’s good to have a plan. Not necessarily a cunning plan but a written down plan. One that those caring for you can read so they know what counts to you. Is it getting your name right, or never parting your hair on the left? Is it stopping invasive treatment when your body is finally failing or making sure that song you love best is shared with your loved ones at your funeral?
No-one can know until you tell them. Make sure you share your uniqueness with those who love you and care for you. Be you until the very end. Death gets us all but you matter and your dying matters.