On Death

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

When was the last time you did some reflection on life? How about death?

Death is not an easy topic to approach as it often strikes uneasiness and anxiety in people who are not ready or not equipped to have conversations about it. Death education is still uncommon. We can approach death as a topic in a number of ways. We can view it as an image or just as some statistics. Try googling "Death statistics Singapore" and you will be able to read some very insightful information.

Here, we would like to briefly empower you with three ways to approach the death topic in the hopes that you might proceed to do further research. Death may be shrouded with much mystery and uncertainty hence one way to reduce the anxiety would be to increase your perceived power and knowledge in this matter.

The first would be the usage of planning tools such as Advanced Care Plan (ACP), Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). These are tools that could help you to also plan for instances when you are still alive but no longer able to make decisions. These tools will provide you with a framework to understand what matters to you so that you could ease the burden of decision making on your loved ones and reduce conflict amongst them at a later stage. LPA even enables you to nominate separate decision makers for your healthcare and your assets respectively. The appointed person has to be informed of your preferences such as your values, beliefs and also your healthcare decisions. These decisions include whether you accept tube feeding and intravenous hydration, whether you wish to have CPR administered or would you rather die naturally and peacefully.

The second way in which we hope to empower you in this field is the fact that there are some signs of death that may signal the need for your family to prepare for a final goodbye. These signs may include a combination of lowered body temperature, extreme fatigue, confusion or unconsciousness, incontinence, refusal of fluid and food intake, mottled skin and change in breathing pattern. When these end of life symptoms appear, it is important to stay calm and provide comfort and gentle emotional as well as spiritual support for your loved ones so that the end of life process can be a peaceful one.

Thirdly, we hope to remind you of the need to communicate well with your loved ones so that closure can be made in any untoward event. Cultivate the habit of expressing the following four phrases:

- I'm Sorry, Please Forgive Me - I forgive you - Thank you - I love you

Finally, should you be navigating treatment options, coping with terminal illnesses, mortality issues or grief, do reach out and know that you are not alone.

Here is our interview with two other seniors, Dexter and Wing Soon, facilitated by Ricky Law from Nation for Future Seniors on the topic of death.

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