Q&A: Helen Proud

As a part of the Ten Things You Need to Know About Death workshops, we're talking to attendees about thier experience and what they learnt from the workshops. Today we speak to Helen Proud.

Before the workshop, how did you feel about talking for three hours about death?

I think one has to know as much as possible at my time of life about the latest interventions, options, choices surrounding death and end of life.  I knew I would learn a lot and meet people who have both expertise in the area and different experiences and beliefs around death.

What did you hope to get out of it?

Being reassured that what I have put in place is correct and adding to my understanding of the death and dying process for others.

What emotions arose while talking about death; relief? a sense of urgency, contentment for example?

I did feel that palliative care should go hand in hand with other end of life choices i.e. doctor assisted suicide or euthanasia.  Palliative care is like a slow death by morphine in many cases and while I know it is right to administer as much pain relief as needed, many people would like the option of speeding up the process avoiding the indignity of not being fully in control in the last weeks of their life.

Also I question the medical staff's attitude of having the final say in how much pain relief, how long it should go on and when to administer a lethal dose.

I think there could be more emphasis on palliative care at home by professional carers.

Also I wondered if there could be some visualization techniques around contemplating one's own death, how to focus on resilience at the time of your own death, meditation for death and dying and supporting others.  Judy Arpana runs workshops on facing death. I have a guided meditation CD of hers on the subject. She is from Lismore and has a big website.  She is a Buddhist.

What (or which part of the workshop) struck a chord with you most?

Not only being as prepared as possible for my own death but thinking how to support another person who may be going through the dying process.

I need to urgently get my life story down, along with photos and diaries and letters to pass on when I am gone.  (now they are in boxes and drawers).  I will be making a headstart on this in October.

What actionable change did you instigate after the workshop?

I dug out my Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and the documents for my Enduring Guardians (I have my copy, my sons have a copy each and the originals are with my Dungog Lawyer) just to make sure they are in the red zip folder in my desk drawer in the living room.



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