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PA20 Views on talking about death, dying and loss
  1. Katharine Abba,
  2. Siobhan Horton and
  3. Mari Lloyd-Williams
  1. Academic Palliative and Supportive Care Studies Group, UK


Background Societal barriers to open discussion of personal feelings and preferences relating to death may hinder planning for end of life and supporting people who are dying or bereaved.

Aim To explore views about talking about death, dying and loss.

Method Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 people; age range 30 to 83 years.

Results Making wills and communicating end of life wishes were considered very important; mostly for the sake of the family left behind. Participants also valued confidence to discuss other people’s end of life wishes and support them appropriately if they were dying or bereaved. Many participants were very comfortable talking about their own death.

Identified barrier to talking about end of life wishes included not wanting to upset others; others not listening; not being about to find an appropriate moment; not knowing enough about the options available; and fear of death, especially of the unknown. Financial costs were seen as a barrier to making a will. Participants talked of the importance of raising awareness of what death and dying involves; what end of life options available; and the importance of communication. Information on the process of normal grieving and how to support somebody who has been bereaved were also suggested.

Conclusion Being able to talk about end of life wishes and know how to support people who are dying or bereaved are important to many people, and they would welcome interventions to facilitate this at a societal level.

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