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Preparation the key to a good death

As J.K. Rowling wrote in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone;  'always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name always increases the fear of the thing itself'.

Statewide clinical lead for care at the end of life Dr Will Cairns said it was the fear of speaking about death that often stopped people dealing with issues they will face as they approach the end of their life.

"Most people prioritise and plan for other major life events," Dr Cairns said.

"Considering the probability of any Queenslander dying at some point in their life is 100 per cent it is essential people also plan for the end of their life so they can achieve a good death.

"There are a number of things Queenslanders can do in a practical, emotional and social sense to ensure they live the last years, months or days at the end of their life how they want to.

"And when people are able to talk and plan for their own death they also make it much easier for their loved ones."

Queenslanders are being urged to use National Palliative Care Week as a conversation starter.

Dr Cairns said Queensland Health recognised the time leading up to and following a death could be a difficult and confusing time, particularly because it is stressful and sad for many people.

"We're working to make it easier for people to plan for their death," he said.

"Queensland Health has created a new web page to ensure that the information about care at the end of life is in line with what the community needs. We will also be creating a suite of resources people can use when they do begin putting plans in place.

"If people would like to know how to plan for the end of their life, I'd urge them to speak with their general practitioner or their treating specialist."

Dr Cairns said the reality was no one could really know what it is like to die.

"Most of the people I talk to are less worried about the uncertainty they feel about being dead and more concerned about the process of dying. Including what they will experience during the time leading up to their death.

"Although a person's beliefs provide them with comfort about what will happen to them after they have died but they remain concerned about physical symptoms, where and how they will be cared for and for the wellbeing of their family.

"We can do a lot to prepare for our own death by thinking about how it is that we want to live our life and, when our time comes, how we want to die.

"Sorting out the things that we need to do, telling our families and our doctors what we want and ensuring that our wishes are clearly documented, all make it much more likely that our wishes will be fulfilled."

For more information about end-of-life care in Queensland check out the updated resources available on the Queensland Health website.

Last updated: 4 July 2016