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Hearing about others' experiences can be helpful when dealing with death and bereavement. Do you have a personal experience that you'd feel comfortable sharing with the campaign? If so, let us know...
J.M. Barrie once wrote that ‘to die will be an awfully big adventure’. This simple line providing the notion that death is an experience has resonated with me even from the first time that, as a child, I read Peter Pan and as an adult, drives my interest in palliation and end of life care in my current role as student nurse. As part of my studies, I attended several events during Dying Matters week and noticed that they too focus their time on positivity and support, asking the question ‘What five things would you want to be remembered for?’ I’ve thought deeply about this and I have yet to find an answer that I feel fits me as a person, but then I thought again. I thought of the people who have joined my journey over the years and wondered which five things I’d remembered about them. I thought of my grandfather and the kindness he showed to stray animals he adopted. I thought of the way he had a fantastic sense of humour and his ability to see things in a different way to most people. I thought about an uncle who died recently from an aggressive cancer and how even on the toughest days, his wit and intelligence never wavered. How his practicality meant that he made sure that those left to walk on without him were not alone. I also thought about people in my professional life and how their journey affected me on a level which surprised me. I thought of the patients who heard the word ‘terminal’ and still wanted to fight their illness, how strong and brave they appeared when even the professionals were devastated. There was a very memorable patient whose hand I held towards the end, who joked ‘what is the difference between God and a doctor? God doesn’t think that he’s a doctor’. I laughed through silent tears while my patient grew tired and fell asleep one last time. I thought for a long while about all of these people all gone to new adventures, thought of their kindness, positivity, their bravery and courage and remember the world they left behind. The love between them and their families, the look of loss and of pain in the eyes of loved ones and gratitude that in the moment my profession were most needed we were there and I realised one thing. That is the thing I’d like to be remembered for. And so with the weight of countless goodbyes I take solace in the words of Terry Pratchett; ‘No-one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.’
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The Dying Matters Coalition is led by the National Council for Palliative Care,
the umbrella charity for end of life care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Freephone 08000 21 44 66