It’s something we must all ultimately address, yet our society remains deeply reticent to talk openly about death and dying.
‘If we don’t have these conversations, those who are ageing, caring for someone at the end of their life, living with a terminal illness, or grieving over the death of a loved one, may feel isolated and unable to share what is happening to them,’ says Professor Jennifer Tieman, Director of CareSearch Palliative and Supportive Services at Flinders University.
She says, ‘Having conversations about death and dying is hard for many among us – yet it is crucial. To change this, we need to build knowledge and understanding through easily accessed resources.
Dying2Learn is an online library of proven digital resources that aim to build community awareness and make end-of-life knowledge widely available. The hub is on Flinders University’s CareSearch portal, with open access to resources originally developed for an online course created by Flinders researchers.
REMAINING CONFIDENT AND CALM
In May 2020 Jo Johnson’s mother died. Two years earlier Jo had accessed the Dying2Learn online content, which helped her to remain confident and calm while she played an active caring role during her mother’s passing.
‘I was able to assist her to have a peaceful passing by reassuring her and guiding her verbally to feel safe and surrounded in peace,’ says Jo. ‘I couldn’t have done this without the knowledge that Dying2Learn provided me with.’
‘I had talked with mum in the lead up to the day and encouraged her to speak in a way that she felt free to express herself honestly, without needing to guard her true feelings to protect me. It was humbling to have her open up in this way.’
SUPPORT FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
While the content is designed for the general public, Professor Tieman says many health professionals also access the resources. This suggests that people working closely with death are still not comfortable or proficient at having conversations about dying.
‘Dying2Learn hopes to enable the whole community to have a greater understanding and acceptance of dying and death – and that such knowledge can then be put into action when the time comes.’