In this morning’s Telegraph, Dr Sentamu calls for people to ‘look death in the eye’, to stop denying it, fearing it and to stop condemning it to a cold hospital ward.
“In evading one of the most important discussion of our lives we lose sight of the fact that a good death is part of a good life,” he said. “Unless we change our reluctance to talk about dying and plan for the future, we are unlikely to be able to die as we would want with dignity, or to support the dying and the bereaved.”
Most of the 500,000 people who die in the UK every year die in hospital beds rather than in the home with loved ones. By hiding death away, we create a culture that doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Recent euthanasia discussions in the news highlight the medicalised portrayal of assisted suicide. Many experts present the process as cold and uncaring when euthanasia is in fact designed to alleviate suffering and present those effected with an element of much-needed control in a deeply traumatic situation.
One poll found that a third of GPs had never initiated talks with their patients about end-of-life choices and only 35% had ever discussed their own personal death wishes with another person.
The Archbishop believes the nearing of death brings about a certain openness and confidence in a person, which allows one to more easily express how they really feel and what they really mean.
By accepting death and reclaiming it as a part of life and an important family ritual, we can start to prepare ourselves for the future and make strong provisions for care and support when one day we are too vulnerable to care for ourselves. We live in a society in which people depend too heavily on the state for survival. It is important to build close-knit families and to take responsibility for each other. Without this, we lose touch with the compassionate, loving beings that we really are – and really need to be if we are to survive.
If you would like support for the subjects discussed in this article, please visit our Bereavement page and see how a counsellor could help you.
Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts below or alternatively view and comment on the original Telegraph article.