Talking about Palliative Care

Talking about dying is hard. And it is sad. However, death is inevitable and the better prepared we are for our death, the easier it will be on the ones we leave behind.

It is also important to talk about death so you can prepare well. When we prepare in advance for our death we are able to relieve the decision making burden on those closest to us.

Palliative Care Australia works hard to raise the profile of palliative care to ensure Australians have the opportunity to live well until death. If we do not talk about dying and understand our rights when we die, then we run the risk of us, or our family member, having a difficult death. We need to talk about dying to become advocates for good palliative care and a comfortable death for all Australians.

Dying to Talk - Discussion Starters

Dying to Talk was a Palliative Care Australia initiative encouraging Australians of all ages and levels of health to talk about dying.

Despite being something that touches everyone, death doesn’t receive enough visibility. Dying to Talk aimed to reach into the community to normalise dying in Australia and to help Australians work out what’s right for them at the end of their lives.

Having a conversation with your loved ones about your end-of-life wishes will help them to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to communicate your wishes. The Dying to Talk Discussion Starter guides you through talking with your loved ones.

With more conversation comes better support for people nearing the end of life, and their loved ones.

Talking about dying might be difficult, but it won’t kill you.

It is important to inform those closest to you of your preferences for care should you be living with a life limiting illness. You might want to consider: where you would like to die (home, hospice, hospital?); what your ‘goals of care are’ – developed with your treating doctor or general practitioner; who you want with you when you die and what your advance care directive may contain, for example: instructions about artificial nutrition, artificial respiration, who your substitute decision maker is if you are unable to speak for yourself.

This is a difficult subject to bring up with friends and family. Below are some suggested conversation starters that may help you broach the subject.

  • Now that we have moved into a retirement home, we have put our affairs in order and I’d like to show you where everything is…
  • I’ve talked to your mother about what I would like should I get really sick and I would like you to support her by…
  • I have made an advanced care plan, I’d like you to take a look at it so you understand what I would like…