Sometimes it’s easier to talk about a difficult topic by being part of a group of friends talking about the subject. This brings in a variety of other people’s experiences. Having a chance to tune in to other people’s feelings and reactions without directly having to give your own views can help you shape your own thoughts. Once the conversation is proceeding in a respectful manner you can choose your moment to reveal your personal views, experiences or concerns.
This is the hope of the Synod’s End-of-life Care Task Group which has prepared a booklet with case studies and discussion prompts about the big questions that relate to our own end of life hopes, planning and preferences, or to those relating to another for whom one has some responsibility. These are sensitive and private matters. Often left until too late.
“Inherently, as a society, we do not like to talk about death… [Yet it] is inevitable and if we want to increase the likelihood of dying a ‘good death’– patients, families, carers and health professionals we should all talk about death,” was one of the conclusions of the WA Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices in its 2018 Report My Life, My Choice.
The Synod Task Group believes this is an issue the Uniting Church can address, both within the church and more widely. The fears, anxieties and dislocating social consequences that COVID-19 has thrown up provide further impetus to this timely resource and discussion.
A simple but wide-ranging educational resource has been prepared to help people better understand death and dying. There is also opportunity to explore Christian faith perspectives. This can raise understandings about Advance Health Directives, Enduring Power of Guardianship as well as the possibilities and practices of voluntary assisted dying which will come into effect in WA mid-year.
A discussion kit will be available soon. Enquiries can be made through your minister or the Synod office if you would like to obtain a copy, and bring together a local group to lift the lid on these important matters. Having prior consideration to the possibilities can make it so much easier to handle decisions if and when critical moments arise.
Rev Ken Devereux, Convener, End-of-Life Care Task Group