Duke University conducted a survey, which was published recently in The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, in which it ranked 81 countries on how well their health systems provided for "the physical and mental wellbeing of patients at the end-of-life".
Only six countries received A grades, while 36 countries earned D's and F's.
Where did the United States rank in this study?
The US ranked 43 out of 81 countries, they earned a C.
What does this say about how, as a society, we regard End-of-Life? Do we give it the honor and respect that it deserves?
"Society should also be judged on how well people die," says Eric Finkelstein, a palliative care expert and professor with Duke-NUS and the Duke Global Health Institute in Durham, North Carolina, who led the study.
"Many individuals in both the developed and developing world die very badly -- not at their place of choice, without dignity, or compassion, with a limited understanding about their illness, after spending down much of their savings, and often with regret about their course of treatment. These things are very common."
Together, let's learn how to "do death differently".
"The fear of death haunts us like nothing else".
Jon Underwood, UK, Founder of Death Cafe, declared himself a "death entrepreneur" that was trying to bring the taboo conversation about death into every day conversations.
Listen to the NPR podcast about Death Cafes.
"The coronavirus pandemic highlights how much we need to have conversations about end-of-life care".
"Americans are not good at talking about death. But we need to be prepared for when, not if, illness will strike. The coronavirus is accelerating this need".
"Our collective silence about death, suffering and mortality places a tremendous burden on the people we love, and on the doctors and nurses navigating these conversations. We should not be discussing our loved one’s wishes for the first time when they are in an I.C.U. bed, voiceless and pinned in place by machines and tubes".
This opinion piece is right on when it says that talking about death is really talking about life.
We need to have these conversations now so that we can understand what our values and priorities are, at the end-of-life and also during our life.
Contact Dee Dee to learn more about how to start these discussions with your loved ones.
Death Cafe's objective is "to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives".
Death Cafe's have no agenda.
It is a discussion group.
It is not for profit.
It is a respectful and confidential space.
It does not lead people to any conclusion, product or course of action.
It is not a grief support or counseling session.
In 2010, Jon Underwood (UK) developed a series of projects about death, one of which focused on talking directly on death. Thus, Death Cafe was born.
Death Cafe's, and A Necessary Conversation, seek to normalize death, dying and grief.
"It’s one of the hardest things to accept, our own mortality. But making a bit of time to have important conversations, while there’s still time, can make a big difference when the time comes".
Talking about death seems so counterintuitive to our culture. However, when we find a safe place to engage in these conversations, we open ourselves to learning so much about others, and ourselves.
This article shares 4 benefits that are received when we start talking about the end of our lives.
1. In planning terms, once you know, you know.
2. It lightens the practical and legal burden.
3. Relief, calm and a sense of control.
4. You'll give people the joy of discovering things that they never knew about you.
These conversations can begin at any time. Do not wait until one is sick or too ill to learn about what is important to them.
Most people chose not to think about death, until it is literally on their doorstep.
People used to be more comfortable with death, but death, and our society, has changed over the decades.
Death was part of every day life, as people use to die in their homes, with their loved one surrounding them.
Now, death is most likely removed from our homes and our communities, and more people tend to die in facilities or hospitals.
The slow process of death has also been removed as we are no longer familiar with how death looks.
However, we have an opportunity to change this.
We can start thinking and talking about death.
We can learn and understand the process of death.
We can understand and clarify our medical priorities.
We can connect closer to our human spirit of both life and death.
The attached article shares a few reasons why it's essential to speak about death. Here is what this article says:
It will make you healthier.
It will make you happier.
You will care more about others.
Your personal goals will be better prioritized.
You'll appreciate art more.
You'll die better.