How would you choose to live, if you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?
What are the most important things in your life? What can’t you live without?
The theme of National Palliative Care Week (24-30th May) this year is “Dying to talk; talking about dying won’t kill you”. In fact, talking about how you want to live and die can be empowering and bring you closer to those who matter most to you. On the other hand, not talking about it can lead to regret – both for you but also for those you leave behind.
As part of National Palliative Care Week, the Palliative Care Service at Alfred Health hosted a public forum on Monday, discussing the topic: “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”, based on a book by Australian palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware.
In front of a packed audience in the Spirituality Centre, located on the ground floor of The Alfred, the forum was opened by Dr Michelle Gold, Director of the Palliative Care Service, followed by a thoughtful introduction from Ms Janet Weir-Phyland, Executive Director of Nursing Services and Chief Nursing Officer.
Drawing upon his many years of experience as grief counsellor with the Palliative Care Service, Damien Peile gave a wonderful presentation on the topic of: “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”, which are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me;
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard;
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings;
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends; and
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
The audience, consisting of staff and patients, then shared their reflections and stories between cups of tea and bites of fresh fruit. They were also invited to take an origami dinosaur – the mascot of National Palliative Care Week 2015 – to remind them of the importance of starting the conversation on how they want to live and die with their loved ones.
Incidentally, Michelle was also interviewed about palliative care by Lindy Burns on 774 ABC Melbourne on Tuesday, alongside Alfred Health Legal Counsel Bill O’Shea and Head of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, A/Prof Steve Ellen. The program podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/774-abc-melbourne/health-regulation-palliative. Michelle’s interview starts at 22:20.
More information about National Palliative Care Week 2015 can be found at the Palliative Care Australia website: http://palliativecare.org.au/national-palliative-care-week/. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #NPCW15 and #dyingtotalk
Bronnie Ware’s book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” can be found online at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Top-Five-Regrets-Dying/dp/140194065X
Do you have any stories to share from National Palliative Care Week? Did you meet someone who was #dyingtotalk or did you have your own “Conversation that Count”?