By Margaret Rice
Strange is the right word for now. It is non-judgmental. It says this Covid-19 crisis is different, unfamiliar, something new to be navigated.
The following list is adapted from the steps outlined in A Good Death: a compassionate and practical guide to prepare for the end of life, by Margaret Rice.
In the time of Covid-19 the challenges to the idea of delivering a good death are enormous. But they are not insurmountable.
We adapt the 11 steps. They are now:
- We learn new ways to companion the dying. We think creatively using new technologies to overcome physical and social barriers now imposed for safety. But we acknowledge their limitations and the deep human need for connection.
- We maintain the right of all people to express their non-physical and spiritual needs while dying – despite any barriers to this.
- We continue to give priority to eliminating pain, offering the fullest range possible of pain relief, working to overcome any injustices presented by limitations of supply.
- We accept that death will be harder to look upon in these challenged times. We will maintain the rights of family and loved ones to bear witness to the deaths of those they love.
- We continue to ensure appropriate ‘housekeeping’ is completed after death, with respectful management of the dead and transparent procedures and protocols maintained.
- We expand our social skills, to help when a death is unexpected. Whether a death from Covid-19 or a death from other causes, both will need to be acknowledged and expressions of grief not limited or judged.
- We will still work to create a meaningful farewell, ensuring the dead are still honoured and their wishes for their funerary practices respected.
- We will reach out to the grieving, despite social restrictions and work to overcome any connection diminished by Covid-19.
Next we prepare for our own end. To do this we:
9. Prepare our paperwork, asking for new insights to help support us should we face a death from Covid-19, or any other cause.
10. We visualise where we would like to die, still maintaining our right to express our wishes in relation to this.
11. We explain to others what we would like to have happen at our own death, despite the limitations Covid-19 may place on this.
And when the Covid-19 period is behind us, we will return to the best of the old ways and bring in the improvements that came from this period.
This adapts Eleven steps to a prepare for a good death – in ordinary times, posted on this website and discussed in the book A Good Death: a compassionate and practical guide to prepare for the end of life.