good life, good death, good grief

Communities are disempowered

Communities are disempowered from providing support to the dying and the bereaved.

  • The days leading up to death have gradually become more "specialised" - the province of different health and care specialists rather than part of the routine and personal care and support within the community
  • Over 50% of people die in hospital, though there are indications that a majority would prefer to die at home
  • A whole generation of people have grown up largely with the expectation that every aspect of dying will be taken care of by professionals and institutions and have never had to acquire the kind of emotional and practical skills for supporting the dying that their grandparents took for granted
  • There is little general understanding of bereavement issues, or about the wider issues surrounding loss. For example, feelings of loss are often a substantial element of experiences of declining health and function and anticipated bereavement can be as real and disturbing and experience as actual bereavement
  • Contemporary society often emphasises individual gratification rather than the importance of caring within the community
  • We now live in a disparate society where people increasingly live significant distances from their families. This can make it more difficult to provide support as family members become frail or unwell
  • As a society we have lost many of the community-enhancing and therapeutic rituals formerly associated with death. Community-based and religious frameworks for dealing with death, dying and bereavement are largely absent for many people

What does this mean?

All of this can mean that communities often do not know how to provide support to their own members.

This can mean that those who are living with thoughts of their impending death may not get the help and support from friends, neighbours and loved ones that they may need to help them cope with their situation.

It can mean that people do not receive the bereavement support they need to help them cope with their loss, leading to unresolved grief and the psychosomatic symptoms associated with this.

Lack of informal support puts more pressure on the limited professional services that are available.

Scotland’s ageing population means that institutions will find it harder to care effectively for the number of people approaching death.

Professional bereavement services are overtaxed and cannot meet the high demand for their services. In the near future it is likely that communities will need to take more responsibility for caring for their own – currently communities are underprepared for this.

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Before I die I want to ...
Bereavement Charter for Scotland