Campaign encourages people to talk honestly about death and dying

April 15, 2018

A LOCAL Lichfield woman is backing a campaign encouraging people to speak openly and honestly about death and dying.

The new campaign by the Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board, ‘Dying Matters, Staffordshire’ aims to help people drop the euphemisms about death, and instead talk openly about what they want to happen when they die.

Pam Cherry, 70 from Lichfield, was married to her husband Chris for 48 years.  Chris sadly passed away recently from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition where the lungs thicken and become scarred.

Pam had already had a discussion with Chris about what he wanted to happen when he died, so she could carry out his dying wishes.

Pam Cherry, 70 from Lichfield, was married to her husband Chris for 48 years.
Pam Cherry, 70 from Lichfield, was married to her husband Chris for 48 years.

Pam said:  “In October 2015 Chris was told he had two weeks to live.  Fortunately they tried him on steroids and they worked, but still they knew it would not be for long. St Giles got involved and gave us a leaflet to fill in, but as Chris seemed to improve we put it to one side.  It was only after Christmas last year as Chris’s health seemed to be failing that we both thought it was the time to fill the form in.

“It’s good to talk openly about death and dying, because even though you think you know the person, their wishes may sometimes surprise you.  It’s also good to talk about your wishes while you are well.  I’m a terribly pragmatic person – it’s just the way I am.  By talking openly about death, I was able to give Chris the end that he wanted instead of guessing his wishes after he’d passed away.  I’m going to do the same for our children, so they know exactly what I want when I die.”

Nearly 80 percent of people also didn’t have any written plans for their end of life care, financial wishes or funeral plans.  Added to this, just one-third of people had told their loved ones where they wanted to die.

County Councillor Alan White, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing said:  “I want to thank Pam for being so candid about her experience, and it just shows that by being open and talking about death, it makes it so much easier to plan the end of life that we really want. Talking about death isn’t easy, but once we get over the awkwardness or the fear and have honest, healthy discussions, we are more likely to get the end of life we want.”

The campaign website www.dyingmattersstaffs.org has advice and resources for people who want to broach the subject with their family, as well as information on other aspects such as Power of Attorney, and stating preferences for future medical treatment.