Share Your Story
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...
It is 10 and 15 years ago respectively, that my parents died. I am Dutch, and they had both opted for euthanasia. In Holland you have to make it very clear if you want to choose your own time, when and under what conditions you want to do this. For years my parents had been writing and updating papers, had them countersigned regularly.
When the time came, they invited their three children and their families to stay with them for a week. I live in England, and we very much appreciated this last week with all of us together, grandchildren and all.
They were both beautiful deaths. The children were present, the grandchildren had said goodbye before. They had some private words for each of us, which I still remember.
The funeral of my father in particular was very beautiful and touching. We had asked a local undertaker, who happened to be female, to help us organise it. We talked with her about what we wanted to do ourselves, and what we'd rather leave to her - it was all up to us.
My father was laid out at home, and I helped the undertaker wash him. I remember I saw to him every day - a job which greatly helped my acceptance of his death.
I shall never forget the journey of the hearse, with the undertaker walking in front, accompanied by our young son. He must have been six or seven. I'm sure he won't forget it either. The coffin was carried by members of the family, not by strangers.
I live in the countryside and most of the many funerals I have witnessed since, have been good too. In these small villages the vicar tends to know people, even if they're not religious. When someone dies, everyone turns out, and the service is usually in church, not the crematorium, whatever they did or did not believe. Of all the off-putting places, crematoria are surely some of the worst!
When it comes to death, everybody has their own wishes. Personally I think that the wishes of the family are most important: the dead person won't be there anymore, after all.
The Natural Death Centre and the Good Funeral Guide have marvellous websites with information about everything under the sun. Whatever your wish or your fears, they are addressed.
See www.naturaldeath.org.uk and www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk
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