If there's one constant in my life's work, it's the fear of death. A common experience shared by many patients I've cared for in my 30+ years as an oncology and hospice nurse.
Fear of what happens next.
Fear of how those left behind will manage without us.
Fear of death in physical or emotional pain.
Fear of saying the wrong thing about death.
Fear of saying nothing at all.
Fear that your end-of-life wishes won't be known, respected, or honored.
THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE
Statistically, the reality is 100% of us will die. So a fear of death is justified. While there's a lot of things we have the power to control in life, death isn't one of them. Taking control of the circumstances under which you leave this life is the one way you can face your fear of death head on and help your loved ones support you.
92% of people feel talking with loved ones about end-of-life wishes is important
95% of people want to talk about their intentions
32% of people have actually done so
21% who want an end-of-life discussion are worried it will upset their loved ones.
53% would be relieved if someone else helped them start the discussion.
COULD YOU BE THAT "SOMEONE ELSE"?
A fear of death makes it challenging to have a discussion about your end-of-life wishes. I've seen thousands of families dance around this topic over the years. Some of them were able to have candid conversations and good talks with their loved ones before dying. Those that could or would not experience such regret. I saw it over and over.
I don't want that for you or those you love. Don't let your fear of death, or the fears your loved ones have around this subject, prevent you from expressing yourself about how you want to die.
Now that you know over half the people surveyed would be relieved to have someone else start the discussion, what do you think about offering that relief to someone you care about? Can you imagine what a valuable gift that would be? You can lead by example. Show those close to you that talking about your fear of death is the best way to get past it and make the important decisions required by this stage of life.
In a future post, we'll talk about ways to open the door to dialogue. You won't want to miss it!