Our role as funeral directors is primarily concerned with arranging funerals but we are asked, as a first point of call, about other matters relating to death and dying.
An important concern for some people in relation to death and dying is making sure that procedures are in place should they no longer remain in charge of all their faculties. An Advance Decision or Living Will is a way to ensure the right kind of medical treatment and care. It is a legally binding option for people wishing to retain control over future medical decisions.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document which allows someone to choose another person or persons (attorneys) to make decisions on their behalf when they lack the capacity to make the decisions themselves. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare. The first allows attorneys to make decisions about paying bills, dealing with bank acounts and investments, collecting benefits and selling property. The second allows attorneys to make decisions about medical treatment including care and medication. It is not the same as a Living Will.
Another concern around death and dying is to make a will. This is a sensible step to take as it will reduce the risk of confusion and conflict within families after someone dies.
A third concern can be how someone deals with a death emotionally. People can be affected in all sorts of ways, sometimes surprising and unexpected. Bereavement can take us to some dark and difficult places in ourselves. There are no hard and fast rules as to how we grieve and grieving takes time. But there is now a much better understanding of what can happen as part of the grieving process and there are specialist forms of bereavement help: for example children who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling or when a person takes their own life.
A fourth concern can be how to pay for a funeral. Is it a good idea to to take out a funeral plan? Is there government help? Will banks pay out for the funeral before probate is completed? Money can be a worry for some people as they approach death and seek to put their affairs in order.
A fifth concern can be organ donation or making one’s body available for medical and scientific purposes. In cases where this is desired, it is crucial to plan ahead so that a person’s wishes can be respected.
For an overview of matters relating to funerals and death and dying, there are two good places to start: The Good Funeral Guide and the Natural Death Centre. There are also local events like Death Cafes where people are seeking to promote conversation around death and dying. For some people, a good way into these sorts of conversation is through a spiritual approach.
Please feel free to contact us before someone dies to explore your options or concerns or if you want support afterwards.
Here are some useful websites which may be of interest to you.