Dr Lynn Weekes is dying to talk
Dr Lynn Weekes AM is CEO of NPS MedicineWise, an independent organisation which works to promote quality use of medicines.
Below, Dr Weekes answers questions from the Dying to Talk Discussion Starter. For support in starting the discussion with your loved ones, download it from www.dyingtotalk.org.au
If you had a condition that you could not recover from, what would be important to you, towards the end of your life?
It would be important for my loved ones to know how much they mean to me and how much I appreciate them. It would be important to be productive and involved in day-to-day life for as long as I was able. And finally, I would want to remove any unnecessary burdens or dilemmas for my family and friends when I am gone, so far as I can.
Are there any pets that you would like to see or be with you, if this is possible?
Definitely, Paolo, my brown Lagotto, is the ideal companion for when you are not sure what to say or want to divert attention to a happy, in the moment, experience. Dogs are great at sensing your mood and a little playfulness is a bonus.
Would you prefer a quiet environment or do you prefer activity and chatter around you?
My guess is that I would prefer at least some time to myself, to reflect and have maximum energy for those times when there is lots of activity and chatter.
Would you like music to be playing and if so, what style or what music?
I would love to have music playing and it would be an eclectic mix from favourite pieces of classical music, to blues, to rock and roll, depending on my mood. Some music just makes you want to sing along or dance and I hope I have enough energy to continue bemusing my family with my awful singing.
If possible, would it be important to you to have time outside?
Sitting in the sun is one of life’s great joys and one I hope to still be experiencing at the end of life. If I can see the ocean or a fragrant garden, that would be perfect.
Would you prefer to be surrounded by lots of family and friends, or would you prefer one or two closest people to be with you?
Sometimes I will want to see lots of family and friends. As I become sicker and my energy is lower I will want to see those closest to me. I will want time for intimate conversations and time for sitting and not talking at all.
Are there any cultural or religious practices you would like to observe?
Nothing special, although I prefer the idea of rotting away slowly in the ground to cremation. I was raised a Catholic and so those rituals and practices feel familiar, but I will be happy with whatever blessing my family and friends agree on.
Is there anyone particular you would like to see or talk to?
My husband, parents – if they are still alive, brother and sister, step-children and a few life-long friends.
Is there anything else you can think of that you would like?
I hope I can still find inspiration in reading, solace in writing, the energy to walk and the grace to accept what is to be.
What is on your bucket list of things you would like to do or achieve before you die?
I’m not a great one for bucket lists. I do hope I leave a legacy of having made a small difference. I hope people remember me as loving, compassionate and challenging in the right measures – helping them find their right path and the courage to follow it.
How did you feel during the process of completing this form? Was there anything about the process that interested or surprised you?
I found this a very reflective and ‘quiet’ task. It felt very positive to think about what is most important to me and empowering in a way that surprised me. It’s a great reminder that what is important at the end of life is too important right now to delay thinking about until then.
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