As we move forward in our communities over the next decade we will be facing a never before experienced wave of dementia, dying, and death – the baby boomers are ageing out and there are 9.6 million of us in Canada! 1 million right here in BC and 550,000 of us in the Fraser Valley!
We have much to prepare for to answer the pressing questions regarding who will take care of our family member as they die. Where will they be cremated or buried? Who will plan for all of this? Can my loved one die at home? What do I need to make that happen? We must become death resilient communities that know how to take care of each other at this important time of life.
It will be necessary to educate our communities and also to create within each community the dying, death and grief resources and go to ‘coaches’ who can provide on the ground real time coaching and support for folks struggling to cope with or prepare for loss. In some cases this may be a role that could be played by the already existing hospice organizations. In other cases it may be its own community development effort that could be championed by a program such as Better at Home.
It is clear though that the resources include but are not limited to simply grief support. Yes, this is one aspect of dying and death for sure and there are many other issues that we need to train people in to ensure that the rising number of deaths can be gracefully and humanly handled in a way that dignifies the one who has died and the family and friends that have survived.
This speaks to a side purpose or benefit resulting from the Alive in Death training – the identification of individuals who would be eager to become such a resource ‘go to’ person for their community. How do we retrain our families in the care of their deceased loved one reversing the tendency to outsource end of life care and have the families simply sign a contract and move on avoiding all the glory of tending to their family member or friend.
If you are one such person please connect with me and we can chat about how that could happen for you and for your community.
Reverend Stephen Garrett, MA