A leader in death as she was in life - Queen Elizabeth II

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A leader in death as she was in life - Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, May, 2015. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters.

The thought, care, and planning that has been highlighted around the death of Queen Elizabeth II should inspire us all to think more deeply about the end of all our lives.

Putting the Monarch’s extraordinary privilege to one side – what we can all connect with is that sense of death being an inevitable part of life - even for a Queen. What the Windsors have shown us is that you can and should plan for it.

As one PCA social media correspondent wrote when reflecting on the Queen’s death, “A long life well lived. A peaceful death in her favourite place, surrounded by family. That's as good as it gets.”

The sentiment I hear in that is “I want a peaceful death – that’s what we all want.”

So, the question is how can you make it happen?

It starts with a conversation with those you love and trust. In our national survey of attitudes around palliative care this year, 88% of people believe it is important to think and talk about their end of life wishes ahead of time.

That said, 56% of Australians have not taken any action.

My hope is that another legacy of the Queen’s death, is that it will empower end of life planning and break down some of the hesitation we might feel when talking about death and dying.

Parades and speeches in parliament are one thing, but at the heart of the Queen’s end of life plan are the people, places, and purpose that were important to her.

Your right to end of life care is just the same as the Queen’s.

However, health and care services are not always in place to support you and your family. Palliative Care Australia is working with the Government to address that postcode lottery, but you also have a role to play.

Today, tonight, now – start a conversation with your loved ones about the people, places, and purpose important to you.

The Queen saw the end of her life coming and made plans. We don’t always have that time, that’s why now is the perfect time to start talking.

That hesitation you might be feeling about such a conversation is a natural reaction but Palliative Care Australia and Advance Care Planning Australia have some great tools to help you and your family along.

If doing it for yourself isn’t enough of a reason, know that your family, community, and health professionals will be grateful for the thinking and direction you bring to that time in your life.

That planning now will allow them to look after you appropriately. I see the comfort and peace that comes with that on the face our new King and his sister and brothers as they go about their ‘sorry business’. What a gift their mother has left them.

Thank you Queen Elizabeth II for your leadership over 70 years, even in death you have set an example for us to follow.

Perhaps the approaching public holiday is a good opportunity to start an end of life conversation with your family.

Camilla Rowland
Chief Executive Officer
Palliative Care Australia

Further reading, advice, and practical tools are available from Palliative Care Australia and Advance Care Planning Australia.


PCA signs condolence book...


As the patrons of Palliative Care Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David John Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, invited Camilla and a number of other organisations they work with, to Government House, Canberra, to sign Australia's condolence book for the Royal Family.

Camilla left the following message:

On behalf of Palliative Care Australia, I write to express our condolences to the Royal Family on the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen was an extraordinary leader, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, who will always be remembered for her compassion, wisdom and care for the Commonwealth.

We greatly value that the Queen passed away in a place of her choosing, surrounded by those who cared for her and her family.

We take comfort in knowing at this time, the outpouring of grief from Australians will provide support to her family. May she rest in peace!