Many of us are aware of the importance of talking openly and planning thoroughly for our end-of-life phase. The fact remains that many people do not prepare for their end-of-life which, as previously highlighted, poses numerous challenges for those living with a life-limiting illness, the people they love, and their caregivers.
There are many reasons why we find it very challenging to prepare for the end-of-life. Some of these include:
When enjoying full health:
- although we all know we will die, the significant advances in medicine have enabled us to live as though we were going to live forever;
- most of us avoid these difficult conversations especially when we are healthy or believe that we are healthy;
- it can be difficult to bring up the subject of palliative and end-of-life care, death and dying with loved ones;
- the subject of dying, death and the end-of-life is taboo for some people in our community. There is some concern that planning for death or holding these conversations may hasten its arrival; and
- talking about death and dying is considered disrespectful in some cultures.
When diagnosed with a life-limiting illness:
- we often do not know where or how to start the conversation and/or planning;
- we may fear what will happen to those we love after we have died and therefore avoid thinking about or planning for it;
- we may fear the reaction of those important to us; and
- finding the right time to talk and plan may be difficult. People who are going through the end-of-life journey may feel comfortable discussing death and dying at some points, but not at others.