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Your Later Life 2020

How planning for death can actually improve your life

Lesley and family

Amy Matthews

Marie Curie Information and Support Manager

Planning your death may seem like a morbid exercise, but it’s a selfless one. The question is, how do you go about it?

There are countless reasons why planning for death is something we tend to put off, or outright avoid.

Some believe it goes against the idea of enjoying your life while you’re living it. Others fear there’s a risk of ‘tempting fate’ by planning for the end.

It has given me a chance to say the things I want to say to the people I love.

Lesley Pugsley

Last year, end of life charity, Marie Curie, launched their ‘Whatever you call it’ campaign, which aimed to get people talking about death, dying and grief and, in turn, help people start planning for their own death.

Many supporters came forward to share their own stories around planning for death.

Give yourself peace of mind

Lesley Pugsley (main image) is living with a terminal illness and was previously being cared for at the Marie Curie Hospice, Cardiff and the Vale.

A lifelong planner, Lesley spent her time at the hospice writing letters to her friends and family, sharing her final wishes with them.

She said: “Making all these decisions hasn’t been a chore. It’s been so easy and it’s been so comforting for me.”

Rather than seeing this as a painful process, Lesley sees it as a gift, saying: “It has given me a chance to say the things I want to say to the people I love.”

A gift to your family

Planning for your death can be an act of love towards your family. Carol Kennaway experienced this following the death of her husband Ralph.

Carol with her husband

Ralph planned out his funeral with their son, Peter, to spare Carol the pain of organising it herself.

Not only did this make things easier for Carol when Ralph died, but also filled her with comfort knowing that “his funeral was exactly as he would have wanted it.”

Ralph’s planning also prompted Carol to think about her own death. She said: “I want to get it all sorted ahead of time. I don’t want to have to leave the burden of those decisions to my kids. I’d like to do it so they don’t have to worry.”

How to plan for death

Marie Curie have created a planning checklist to help people start putting their affairs in order before they die.

Some of the key items on the list are:

–           Make a Will
–           Choose someone to make decisions about your finances
–           Make decisions about your funeral
–           Arrange who will look after any children or dependents
–           Leave messages to your loved ones through letters or videos

The final, and perhaps most important, point is to talk to your loved ones about these things. By sharing your plans with those close to you, they can be confident that they carry out your wishes after you’re gone.

The full checklist can be found at, along with further tools and information to help people plan for the end of life, wherever they are in the process.

If you, or someone you know, is affected by a terminal illness, death or bereavement, then the Marie Curie support line team are ready to help seven days a week with practical information and emotional support when you need it, including a bereavement support service.

Call free 0800 090 2309 or visit:

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