Summary of the King’s Cross pop-up death cafe

20150511_163106This pop-up was co-hosted by Julienne McLean, a psychologist and Jungian analyst and spiritual director, based in north London. Julienne works with clients who experience bereavement issues throughout life.

Up until now, people who come to the pop-up death cafes have been personally interested in end of life care, or have family and friends who have died or who are dying.

Coincidentally, those who came to the pop-up at Kings Cross were all professionals in their own field who used creativity to help people to talk more openly about end of life issues.

So this café had a very different feel to it even though it was just as interesting and rewarding as the previous ones.

One participant had worked with a children’s bereavement charity for many years, and wanted to work more directly with the dying.

One was part of a theatre company, researching for a potential project about  the issues surrounding dignity in dying,

One was a television producer, researching for a three part series on end of life issues, including assisted dying.

One ran a training programme for volunteers in North London, which empowers communities to plan for the final years of life.

One worked for Age UK as a project manager, coordinating volunteers and organisations to have conversations around putting plans in place for end of life.

Continue reading “Summary of the King’s Cross pop-up death cafe”

Terry Pratchett’s courageous odyssey into assisted suicide

It was with some trepidation that I sat down to watch Terry Pratchett’s BBC 2 documentary (if you can call it that) ‘Choosing to Die’ last night on catch-up. Trepidation, because the deaths I have witnessed as a nurse, and sitting with both my mother and father as they died, are not about the ‘gentle closing of the eyes’ we see in films or read about in books.

People tend to hover between life and death for a long time, often becoming increasingly restless or agitated. It can also be alarming, and sickening, to listen to laboured breathing caused by fluid gathering in the lungs, and get used to the distinctive and unpleasant acetone odour that pervades everything as the dying person’s system closes down.

Continue reading “Terry Pratchett’s courageous odyssey into assisted suicide”

Nan Maitland, ending her life with courage and dignity

Woman Commits Suicide to Avoid Old Age, was a front page Sunday Times headline.  Immediately I imagined some poor, pathetic, lonely old soul, without friends or family, reaching the end of her tether, and killing herself in a horrible, grisly way.

Reading the story I realised how sensationalist and misleading this headline was.

Eighty-four year old Nan Maitland, who suffered from arthritis, planned her death, to my mind, purposefully, courageously and without drama.  In the note that she left behind, she made it clear that she had no wish to enter a prolonged period of painful decline that many elderly experience these days before they die.

Continue reading “Nan Maitland, ending her life with courage and dignity”

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