Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast

Confronting our Death Denying Culture

January 24, 2022 Hospice Quinte Season 5 Episode 4
Hospice Quinte: Changing Lives Podcast
Confronting our Death Denying Culture
Show Notes Transcript

Dying is a part of living.  We will all experience it ourselves and we will all lose someone we love and experience the grief and bereavement that comes with that loss.  Even though it is such a fundamental part of life – it seems to be a topic that many people have a hard time talking about.   Because it is such a difficult topic – we tend to avoid mentioning it at all.  That has created what many call a “death denying” culture.   Find out how you can confront our death denying culture in this week's podcast.

Listen on 91x FM
You can listen to episodes of "Changing Lives"  on 91x FM each Monday (except for holidays) at 9:05am.  Hospice Quinte is grateful to the support that 91x FM provides in producing the "Changing Lives" podcast. 

About Hospice Quinte
Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  

Hospice Quinte serves a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. To find out more visit HospiceQuinte.ca.

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Dying is a part of living.  We will all experience it ourselves and we will all lose someone we love and experience the grief and bereavement that comes with that loss.  Even though it is such a fundamental part of life – it seems to be a topic that many people have a hard time talking about.   Because it is such a difficult topic – we tend to avoid mentioning it at all.  That has created what many call a “death denying” culture.

            Denial is also a part of living.  It is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations.  While denial can be helpful in handling challenging situations, when it comes to the way that we react when faced with our own or a loved one's physical decline, mortality, and the death experience, denial can be more harmful than helpful.

            When you are in denial, you may not acknowledge a difficult situation or face the facts of a problem.  You might also downplay the possible consequences of the issue.  On the surface, refusing to face facts might seem unhealthy.  Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that “sometimes a short period of denial can be helpful. Being in denial gives your mind the opportunity to unconsciously absorb shocking or distressing information at a pace that won't send you into a psychological tailspin.”

            It’s normal and natural to want to be in denial about death and dying.  However, it’s important to move out of that denial, because if you don’t, you may cause unnecessary stress for your family and friends if you are the one dying or you may miss out on some special moments at the end of a loved one’s life.  It’s much better to discuss matters around death and dying when everyone is well, and not under pressure in an intensive care unit.

            We make plans for so many parts of our lives and now it is time to tackle our death-denying culture and start planning our deaths as well.  

            It can be hard to know where to start when having a conversation about your end of life choices.  You might even have to face the death denying culture head on if someone you want to discuss it with says things like, “Oh, you don’t need to worry about that – you’re too young,” or “We have plenty of time to talk about those things, no need to worry about it today.”  

There are resources to help you have these tough conversations.  You can reach out to Hospice Quinte and we can point you in the right direction.  At hospice, we face death and dying every day – it’s in the nature of our work, whether we are supporting someone with a terminal illness or someone who is bereaved.   

You can also find quality resources online.  Speak Up Ontario has a website full of resources to help you make an Advance Care Plan outlining your values, beliefs, wishes, and preferences for your end-of-life care.  An Advance Care Plan will help you consider questions such as, “If you can’t speak for yourself, who do you want to make your medical decisions for you?” And, “Where would you prefer to die – at home, at a hospice residence, or in hospital?” 

You can even include information about organizations you wish to receive support from at your end of life. For example, if spending your final days in a hospice residence is of interest to you, you could include being cared for at the Hospice Quinte Care Centre in your plan.  

            Finally, as you start to think about your end of life care, remember to include loved ones in your decisions. Though they don’t necessarily need to have a say, it’s incredibly important for them to know first-hand what your values and preferences are for your care or for your memorial.   Be a part of changing our death denying culture – and start the conversation about your end of life plans.

Hospice Quinte provides individuals, their families, and caregivers with compassionate end of life care, by attending to their physical, psychosocial, and practical needs, and offering empathetic care to those who are grieving through visiting hospice services and support groups.  All Hospice Quinte programs and services are provided by compassionate, well-trained volunteers and staff at no charge to the individual or their family.  We serve a population of over 102,000 in Quinte West, Belleville, Deseronto, Tyendinaga Township and the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.