"If you've ever looked after a loved one with dementia you would know how devastating it is for them and everyone around them. I certainly do. My father, Charles, died 10 days short of his 90th birthday. Death came quietly in the evening and dad’s departure was strangely peaceful and not the least bit frightening, even though I could feel Death’s presence as I sat beside dad’s bed.
Dad had vascular dementia, the second most common dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Too many people in Australia think dementia is a natural part of ageing but that is so wrong. Dementia is an irreversible, terminal condition for which there is no cure and very little treatment. As the disease progresses a person with dementia loses the capacity to make decisions for themselves."
"When dad died, we realised he had never discussed his funeral wishes with us. Rightly or wrongly, having that kind of conversation never seemed appropriate. The very idea seemed confronting and upsetting. However, planning dad’s funeral would have been so much easier if we had talked about what he wanted when he was well enough to do so. It would have been the sensible thing for us to have done.
Instead of knowing what dad would have liked my brothers and I had to feel our way through the process of organising his farewell hoping we were doing the right thing."
"Some areas of the funeral planning were easy enough, we knew the music he loved, and because dad was a keen gardener, we knew the flowers he would have liked. But other areas were more difficult, such as whether he would have wanted a burial or cremation. As I discovered there’s more than 80 decisions to be made when planning a funeral, all in the space of 72 hours. As you can imagine, there were some stressful moments.
Ideally, it would have been best for dad to express his end-of-life care wishes when he was able to make decisions for himself. He and I had plenty of opportunities to discuss and plan his funeral as we spent a lot of time together before he died. Together, we could have ensured his funeral was everything he would have wanted. He had put all his financial affairs in order but, like many other families, his funeral was something that was never spoken about.
It’s so important to discuss and deal with end-of-life issues in order to make our own choices as best we can and not leave it to family and friends or guardianship tribunals to guess what we would have liked. If a loved one has dementia, I urge you to have this conversation sooner rather than later. Making funeral arrangements ahead of time can be an empowering process and advanced planning can reduce the stress and uncertainly of these arrangements during a difficult time."
Prepaying a funeral with White Lady Funerals, or Mareena Purslowe Funerals in WA, gives you:
Call us to start your planning on: 1300 656 550.