You might not live to see the next day. Wouldn’t you want your important affairs sorted out?

Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

| Sulaiman Daud | Sponsored | September 27, 2021, 11:54 AM

Death may be a taboo subject among my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, but as an ageing Millennial, I’m pretty comfortable talking about it.

In fact, my favourite comic book character just so happens to be Death from DC’s “Sandman”. Instead of a bony skeleton in a robe with a scythe, the Reaper of Souls is depicted as a cute Goth girl dressed in fashionable black.

After all, dying is usually a traumatic experience and it’s nice to think you see a friendly face before moving on to whatever happens next (if there’s a “next”).

Image from the World’s Finest YouTube.

Also, what with all the wars, plagues and natural disasters going on these days, death is not as uncommon as it seems. And a more personal note, it’s a grim fact that as we get older, more people we know may die. Whether it’s a grandparent, an older aunt, or maybe even a friend, time claims us all. We’re no strangers to death.

Funerals, burials and so on are mostly a way for those left behind to come to terms with the losses. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t want a sad funeral anyway. A party would be more fun. I want my friends and family to blast my favourite music and tell each other the worst stories about me they can remember. Let my wake be a chance for everyone to remember me fondly, instead of being sad.

But while most people hope they can pass away quickly and painlessly, the fact is that life and death are always more complex than we expect. We could get caught up in some horrible accident but not die, and be left incapacitated. In extreme circumstances, we could be left unable to communicate with others, even though we may still be alive.

Although I wouldn’t wish such a fate on my worst enemy, it could still happen.

Advance Care Planning

Although some people may not be too keen on discussing the subject of death, I find it’s better to get things out in the open. I believe in the necessity of participating in Advance Care Planning (ACP).

This refers to a series of non-legally binding conversations with my family about what they should do in case certain scenarios arise, and it can be done while I’m still in good health.

For example, a decision needs to be made if one is rendered severely mentally incapacitated, with a low chance of recovery. I can decide to appoint a substitute decision maker as to what kind of care I should receive.

I could also start planning for a situation where I suffer organ failure, and have to repeatedly go to the hospital with declining function, and think about what kind of treatment I’d prefer if I happen to require total nursing care.

Or if I happen to contract a terminal, incurable illness, I can express a preference about the kind of care I would receive in my final days, and even my preferred place of death. I might even choose the top of Mount Everest, just to annoy everyone. Presumably involving a helicopter of some kind.

The point is that ACP helps lay out a set of instructions that your loved ones can refer to when tragedy strikes. Your wishes are known. And at the very least, thinking through and discussing these issues can help you to think about death in a healthier manner.

Lasting Power of Attorney and writing a Will

You may have seen this in drama movies where a very rich person is about to die and her relatives are circling like vultures, trying to convince her to sign over all her money.

Now I may not be quite as rich as to cause that much drama, but Lasting Power of Attorney is still a good idea. Appointing someone to legally make important decisions about my personal welfare in case I am incapacitated and can’t make those decisions for myself gives me peace of mind.

This is slightly different from writing a Will, which is still a good idea to do while you’re alive and capable of making important decisions. I know that no matter what happens, my precious collection of Batman comics will be donated to someone who truly deserves them.

Palliative care

Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not only provided just before one’s eventual demise. Instead, it is most effective when there is still time to discuss and understand the patient’s goals.

Palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life, not just for the patient, but for their loved ones. Not only is physical care provided, but emotional and psychological support as well. It can take the form of pain and symptom control, counselling, grief and bereavement support, and guidance for complex decision making and planning.

It begins with conversations. Discuss with your doctor the options for palliative care, which can be done in conjunction with other medical treatment. And it also involves talking to your loved ones about your views on care preferences, finances, personal beliefs, and death itself.

Hospices and palliative care services available in Singapore may be found at this link.

Find out more

If all this talk of death has got you thinking, you’re not alone.

The Singapore Hospice Council has a wealth of resources for people making preparations for their end-of-life care, or decisions about what should be done after they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.

In commemoration of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on Oct. 9, 2021, a virtual concert will be held to show appreciation to palliative care professionals around the world. And the Singapore Hospice Council will also launch an interactive online game called “The Living Game”, for individuals to find out more about end-of-life care in a fun and engaging way.

We all get one life. It’s worth thinking about how you’d like it to end. Check out this short film about a young boy with a terminal illness and his friendship with a palliative care nurse, but be sure to have tissues close at hand.

Top image from the Singapore Hospice Council.

This is a sponsored article by the Singapore Hospice Council.