We all die…

It concerns me that such a fuss is made in the media about people (usually more so when they are celebrities) when they either get a diagnosis, or die from dementia. Surely dying is a natural part of life, and for those left behind, just as devastating when it’s from the violation on the body caused by cancer or MND, as it is from dementia.

The 100% statistical guarantee in life is that we all die, and I don’t mean to be morbid when I write or talk about dying; it is a simple fact of life.

The continuing myths that we are ‘not all there’, or ‘fading away’ or ’empty shells’ has a lot to do with the stigma, and there is a whole chapter on the many myths of dementia in my first dementia book. It’s also partly why we are labelled ‘sufferers’, and I am certain that label is more to do with the experience of our family and friends, as they watch us change and die. Whilst there is no disputing that some of the time, people with dementia do suffer, is not the sum of our experience, and just as before dementia, we had good and bad days, so it is after a diagnosis.

I’ve previously published many posts on death and dying, some even with the same title, We live until we die. The first one was published in 2013, the second one in 2015, in honour of a beautiful woman called Moira who became ‘another mum’ to one of our youngest sons best friends, after his birth mother had died when the boys were about 13.

In 2012, I wrote a blog called On death and dying, and thought this was worth quoting from it:

“With the diagnosis of a terminal illness, mortality gets to sit at your table, right next to the knife and fork, up close and personal, whispering messages that you might die much sooner than you thought. You do not get to continue to view death from the large platform called life, but from the edge of the stage, just behind the curtain, as if waiting for your cue to die. A diagnosis of a terminal illness makes you feel temporary, transient, and somehow perishable; mortal.”

Let’s get comfortable with living with and beyond dementia, not just dying from it, but also, let’s start talking about dying, as it is the one certainty in life. For those left behind, it is important they know our wishes if we become incapacitated in any way. Get you end of life affairs in order, if you are old enough to vote, rather than wait for a crisis or illness! I featured in a video about it here, and you can read more about planning ahead on the SA government website.

If you live outside of Australia, do think about finding information on advanced care planning, and being proactive about how you’d like to die, or where you’d like to live if you become unable to care for yourself. Better to make your own plans now, than leave it to others, who may not know what you want when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Whether it is dementia, or a major illness or injury, it is only a few who are lucky enough to just go to sleep and not wake up…

The fact that we all die is definitely not a myth.

6 thoughts on “We all die…

  1. Kate as I mentioned. ? Why don’t you encourage dementia people to campaign the polititions within their states to advocate for end of life choices dying with dignity advocates. Then all accepting their ending can have their personal choice “when”and the most kindest way for themselves towards self dignity and their children to be spared from how dementia ends life for the children to live out in and through those horrendous memories. Which I live and my sister in such sadness. Then yes we can seize our every day positivel knowing our end time will not be as theirs.🙆

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  2. Hi Kate
    It is ironic you have put this blog out today it’s exactly a year ago that my BUB and best friend lost his fight for life to cancer. As you say there is only one thing certain that when anybody’s time comes they die. So we should all live well because nobody knows when it’s time to go. Just make sure you have all the legal documents in place. If I hadn’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s we would never had put these in place and as you can see my BUB died before me but it made it so much easier for me and my family. It’s good that people talk positively about death.

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  3. Kate – I fully support the completion of Advance Care Directives ….. thanks for bring up the topic again. A note for your blog-readers ….. the links given by Kate are for South Australia’s law around Advance Care Directives (aka ‘living wills’) and don’t legally apply to other states, who have either their own legislation or common law rules around ACD in their state.

    About the topic of dying …. if also has to do with the age of the PWD and the stage of the disease they are at. I also think that the place & conditions that they are living in also influences the talk of death – maybe not the talk of death, but the absolute ‘starkness’ (??) of their “condition”. If you walk into a room of 80 year olds sitting upright on chairs who are either asleep or staring blankly ahead…… they aren’t being mistreated, after all, it’s their afternoon ‘nap’ ….. but for many visitors it’s a harsh reality that they aren’t comfortable with. And to them it looks like these people are one step from the grave 😦

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    • Thanks for highlighting the ACD link I added is SA only. One thing I disagree with in your comment, is that more often than not, people are sitting in chairs in aged care facilities, ‘staring blankly or asleep’, more often due to chemical restraint, so in my opinion, they have been mistreated. I see this as abuse, as do many others.

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