As Dying matters week comes to an end I would like to tell you a little of my experiences and it may be of comfort to others.

When we are young, we all believe we are invincible and indestructible, and death is something that is not discussed and rarely thought of.  Naturally, it can also depend on where your employment takes you, I remember one of my first clients when I started selling, was a firm of under takers in Sutton, I have to say I felt a little intimidated when I walked in there but within seconds, we were all laughing, and I met the nicest bunch of people and some of the funniest.  I think a sense of humour must have been extremely high on the qualification list together with a huge sense of kindness and warmth.

I will never forget the day my parents told me that they did not want a funeral and wanted to donate their bodies to science!!  Shock horror I hear, yes but now having dealt with my fathers’ death and my mum being 93 and suffering with dementia I can see where they were thinking.

Dealing with my Dad’s situation was tough, he was a scientist and incredibly forward thinking and a staunch environmentalist as well.  His care of the environment ran deep in his veins – he was saving rainwater n water butts around the garden before they had really been thought about and everything was recycled or not purchased.  You also realise as you get older how important it is to abide by their wishes as well and how important it is to honour them in the way they would like.

Once Dad was taken into the care home, I was then able to enact the Power of Attorney that I had and had to proceed to think about his wishes, he had a living will which we had to ensure they could deal with and I was so grateful that this was all in place and that the home where he was understood the situation and also was happy to comply with his wishes.

Dad however had dementia and sadly when people have dementia, they no longer want their bodies for science.  However, what they do want quite desperately, and it sounds very macabre is the brain and spinal cord for research into the disease.  I duly arrange for this to happen and having found an undertaker who would deal with this – that was that box ticked!!  It was probably one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had because at the time Dad was still alive.

When Dad passed away, I realised how glad I was that everything was in place and how straight forward it all was – there was no fuss and panic as to what I needed to do next it was all very simple and straightforward – thanks to the forward planning.

There were many times when I thought that I didn’t agree with my father and the thought of him no having a funeral and not being able to say goodbye properly made me sad but in the end we did everything he wanted and he had a funeral and more importantly a beautiful memorial service with over 100 people there.  It all worked out incredibly well in the end.

I remember when my mother-in-law died there was no discussion as to what or when or how – she had it all written down – complete chapter and verse as to exactly what she wanted and how and who and it was all done according to her wishes – it made life so straight forward and took all the stress out of the situation.

If there was any advice that I could give, I would say when thinking about this subject please give due consideration to the family who will be left behind you, and also as family – please listen and be understanding that your relative is trying to help you and make life easier by planning it all for you.  Death causes enough grief in itself and if your relatives are doing some planning for you then be thankful and glad as when the time comes you will really appreciate it.

There are of course many remedies that can be used at the time but each one is totally individual and will depend on the circumstances involved and the emotions.  Star of Bethlehem, Sweet Chestnut, Mimulus, Pine, Larch, Walnut to name but a few but ultimately for first 24/48 hours Rescue Remedy is a really good fail safe.

Ultimately be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time