Guest post by Wendy Coulton
Lynda Bellingham’s refreshing openness and honesty about living and dying with cancer has touched many lives but the enduring legacy will be if people take responsibility for their end of life matters.
There have been calls for the Oxo advert to be broadcast this Christmas by way of a tribute to Lynda. Surely a better tribute to this remarkable woman would be to follow her example – discuss and prepare for the inevitable.
Despite pretty much everything else being talked about on social media and reality television, death is still a taboo topic. Lynda was inspirational in the way she spoke, laughed and cried about dying and her decisions regarding the end of her life.
I regularly see families in distress and turmoil because there was no discussion with the person who has died about their wishes and no practical arrangements made regarding funding the funeral related costs. In some instances siblings have fallen out over conflicting views about what their parent would have wanted on fundamental issues like whether it is to be burial or cremation.
And if people feel uncomfortable discussing end of life matters with their nearest and dearest – they can always write it down and let their family know where their instructions or wishes can be found when the time comes.
The organ donation and transplant service has been encouraging registered donors to tell their next of kin whilst they are alive about their wishes because ultimately families can withhold consent and stop donation proceeding.
Personally I think the last act of love I can give to my daughter is peace of mind knowing my wishes because we have talked about it, having a will in place and having finance allocated and easily accessible to pay for funeral costs.
Preparations are well underway for a two day event I am organising in Plymouth called ‘The Elephant in the Room’ in March 2015 with 12 talks and an advice hub all under one roof on a wide range of end of life matters.