Knowing you will die offers you a special opportunity – the chance to say goodbye to those you love and care about. It is a sad and difficult thing to do, but some people say they feel lucky that they’ve had the time to prepare.
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Saying goodbye is a personal experience and you need to do what is right for you. When you feel you are ready, consider how you will say goodbye.
You might set aside a time to talk to each person individually. Or, if you are physically up to it, you might have a gathering for friends and family. Other ways to say goodbye include documenting insights, requests, thanks, advice, recipes, memories or anything else that is important to you. Some people record these thoughts in a letter or recording, but you can be as creative as you like. You may also want to consider who to pass keepsakes to.
If you have children or grandchildren, you could specify that any letter or recording is to be given to them at a specific age or time in their life. You (or your friends) could also create a slideshow or scrapbook of special photos. A memory box can be another special keepsake for your family.
You may find it hard to think about a time when you won’t be there for your children, but these actions can be helpful and comforting for them. If your children are very young, they’ll understand your words and sentiments when they’re older.
If you have a pet, you may want to consider who will care for them. Talk to your local RSPCA to see whether they have a program for rehoming pets.
A memory box is a collection of keepsakes for your family. What you put into a memory box will be your personal choice, but some possibilities include a:
Dr Megan Ritchie, Staff Specialist Palliative Medicine, Palliative Care Service, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Gabrielle Asprey, Cancer Support Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Rosemary Cavanough, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Metro South Palliative Care Service, QLD; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Karen Hall, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC; Rowena Robinson, Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia, ACT; Helena Rodi, Program Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia, VIC.
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