What does it mean to be #InAGoodPlace to die?

Join us in celebrating Dying Matters Week from 2nd  -6th May 2022; helping to ensure that you are #InAGoodPlace to die.

A note from Janet Dunphy, Blythe House Hospicecare & Helen’s Trust CEO

Where people die and who is there with them is more and more important than ever before.  We know that historically 82% of people would wish to die at home with their loved ones and 50 % still died in hospital. Yet, in 2020, we have seen the number of people who chose to die at home rise to the levels anticipated for 2030. These were non-Covid deaths.  Community capacity has to increase to meet this demand. The gaps in social care provision and overworked NHS hospitals exacerbate the problem hugely.

Blythe House Hospicecare and Helen’s Trust do not work in isolation, we are part of the fabric of our community, we hear their choices of where a good place to die would be for them. We have a Hub for our community to come into, for our carers and patients. We reach out into homes with our Hospice at Home and Community Volunteer services to provide the safety net that is needed to secure memories that last a lifetime.  At the of worst times, often due to loss and crisis, knowing that as a carer you did what matters most to your loved one is everything. We make sure that people can cope, that they can discuss their choices and concerns.  We are the safe place to turn to and compassionate team that will reach out to be alongside you.  Dying is a natural process, it is part of our community. A good death for many means being in their place of choice with people that matter to them. We are there, and with our communities support we will stay there, proudly alongside you.

As part of this years Dying Matters week we have the following events for you to take part in:

Around Chapel-en-le-Frith, Tuesday 3rd May from 10.30am – 12.30pm on

Join us for a bereavement walk, followed by refreshments, in partnership with High Peak CVS.

Blythe House Hospice, Tuesday 3rd May from 5.00-6.30pm

A free event open to all professionals working with children. A workshop focused on learning how to support children that have a family member with a terminal condition or that has died. Led by Ray Leech, lead counsellor, and Lorna Barratt, family support worker

Buxton Methodist Church, Thursday 5th May from 10.30-11.30am

  • Collaboration event – Led by Julia Worthington, Integrated Neighbourhood Manager

Norfolk Square Glossop, Friday 6th May from 10am-12noon

Useful links and contacts:

Poems by Susan Hartley

Susan started to attend services at Blythe House in 2017, after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer several years earlier.

Throughout her illness, Susan created a collection of writings that her family have put together after her death.

Her family explained: ‘Susan was, amongst other things, a talented writer, a beautiful singer, a kind counsellor and a loving daughter, sister, aunt and Godmother. She is very missed.’

The poems and words below are printed with the kind permission of the Hartley family.

Writing

Well, this is not just about writing, but about how it can impact on your mental and physical health. Also how it can impact on others who read or hear your writing.

When you put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard it can take you beyond the real world or it can bring the reality of it into exquisite high definition. It can help you make sense of everything that’s going on, a way to make clear the muddy waters of human emotions. It can help you express your thoughts and emotions that are hard to voice in other ways.

The other side of writing is that it can make you laugh, evoke wonderful memories, let someone know just how much they mean to you or celebrate what you are grateful for. For me, writing is a way to keep in touch with myself, no matter what the subject matter. When I started writing it was with a lack of confidence most of us experience when tackling something new. Now I’ve been  writing for some time now I don’t know mind reading out my pieces to my wonderful writing group as I know it will be met with positivity and kindness. I also look forward to hearing pieces from my group which are invariably moving, well written and inspiring.

I would recommend writing as an activity for anyone, no matter who you are or your abilities. It is truly one of the most life changing activities that I have been lucky enough to experience.

Conversations with my brain at 4.30am

Brain – Sue!

Me – What?

B – Are you asleep?

M – Yes, shut up!

B – I’m worried

M – Go to sleep. I’m tired, now is not the time.

B – I can’t! I’m thinking about dying. Didn’t you see the dream we just had?

M – Yes but that’s not real is it?  It’s not happening now. Sleep, that’s what should be happening. I have to be up early in the morning.

B – But dying is scary! Aren’t you frightened? That dream was scary!

M – Of course I get scared. But you know what makes things ten times worse? NOT SLEEPING!! We’re not dying now. We’re safe and in bed and very alive. Now go to sleep.

B – But I don’t want to die!

M – Neither do I! But it won’t happen for some time yet.  I keep saying this to you. Why won’t you listen?

B – Are you sure?

M – Well not 100%, no one can be.

B – See, I knew it!

M – But I am doing my best to keep myself well and healthy and alive. That’s all we can do. Now we really need some rest. Has the morphine I gave you earlier helped?

B – Not really. Do you think it will hurt?

M – What, dying? I hope not. We’ll have enough drugs to hand when we need them.

B – Ok well that’s something I guess. By the way….

M – What now?

B – Bladder says you need a wee

M – Oh for %^&*’s SAKE!!

7th February 2019

Moving On

To move on in my life, I think that learning to live peacefully with uncertainty would be an important goal for me.

No-one knows when they are going to die but in some cases, such as mine, death is lurking nearer than can be regarded as a comfortable distance. No longer can I put thoughts of my demise to the back of my mind and trip lightly through my days of blissful ignorance. Funeral plans, wills, powers of attorneys, letters to loved ones and close friends are all buzzing around my head as I try to focus on keeping my health as good as possible. These are the things that cannot wait in case the universe has other plans for me.

Yes uncertainty can be very unsettling. It’s not just about when your time might run out but also it can be about waiting for test results, wondering if I will be allowed to travel abroad next month and wondering each morning how well, or unwell, I will be that day. How much energy do I need to get everything done? What if I can’t manage to do what I want to do?   How will I be if I have that fourth glad of Merlot? (OK so I already know the answer to that one but I always manage to convince myself otherwise!)

Living with uncertainty is hard, but it’s not impossible. We can develop skills that will calm our worries down and let us live our lives in a positive way. Skills take practice and application and it’s a skill to train your brain not to live purely on “what if” thoughts. We are hard wired to worry and anxiety’s favourite home is “the unknown future”.  So try and lead your worries gently to the world that you do know; the present. Blythe has aught me to live in the present moment where I an alive, well and happy to be here. The future can wait until tomorrow.

28th September 2018