Businesses and professionals whose daily focus is on helping people coming to the end of their life are well placed to help us all live to the full.
Hospice workers, end-of-life carers and funeral directors come face-to-face daily with the realities of what really matters to people and, as a result, have much to teach us all about how to improve the quality of our lives.
Beyond, a service intended to bring transparency to the business of funerals, is focused on the things we all have to think about for ourselves and our loved ones once all is done. Consideration of some of the areas that face us at the end of life could well make a huge impact on getting the most out of our days now, whatever stage of life we are at.
It was a principle excellently demonstrated by the runaway success a few years ago of a book by a palliative nurse The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, which documented the common themes reflected upon by the many patients she had counselled.
Here, we consider five actions related to end-of-life that, if considered early, could help shape how we all live better.
Dare to be individual
Customs, conventions and traditions are many in relation to funerals, but there is a rising acceptance now for personal touches. Whether it be an unusual casket, flower arrangement or song, few people begrudge attempts to individualise a funeral and make it a better representation of the person lost. In life, we often work hard to fit in, but perhaps we’d be happier and have less regrets by being our true selves earlier on. This attitude can extend to a wide range of things, including asking whether you are in the industry you really want to be in or just doing what feels expected of you, questioning whether working five days per week (or more) is really what you want or considering being brave enough to walk away from the day-to-day every now and again to invest in travel and relaxation.
Looking after loved ones
The contents of a will transcends the reallocation of assets. Its true purpose is in making arrangements to try to make provision for those who matter to you in life. Few will deny that the majority of us are unlikely to utter on our deathbeds the wish that we’d invested more hours in the office. As such, prioritising looking after the needs of loved ones and spending time with them can make a huge difference to the quality of the day-to-day. If when all is said and done, your main aim will be to provide for your loved ones perhaps it is worth considering now whether the only way you do that is financially.
When someone dies there is a lot for those left behind to sort out – personal belongings, finances, the estate. Those who have had or made time to think through these processes will perhaps have taken action to get paperwork organised, clear the clutter from their belongings and ensure their finances are in order. Those are tasks that, if ingrained into daily life, can make our lives much less complicated and all round better. Being organised and on-top-of-things will save you stress and time to help you direct energy to more pleasurable things.
The story of your life
It is often only after someone is gone that loved ones pull together the threads of what made up the fabric of their lives for an obituary. Barring when we each rework a CV and document our working lives, few of us will perhaps routinely consider what makes up the story of our lives so far. Yet, some consideration as to what has been achieved and what ambitions remain may just change the course of things and improve your life considerably.
Don’t forget to laugh
In the midst of grief, snippets of humour are often hugely comforting and unifying. Whether it be in the private moments and conversations remembering someone who is gone or within the funeral. In times of the darkest tragedy there are always glimpses of light and laughter. Some people deliberately plan to try to lift the mood for others within their own funeral, perhaps with a funny song to make mourners laugh – Another One Bites The Dust by Queen anyone? If we can laugh then, can we not find moments to laugh every day? What better way than a genuine and regular belly laugh to improve the quality of every life?
Content supplied and written by Patrick Vernon