Why don’t we talk about dying?

Why don’t we talk about dying?

An article written by Suzanne Sara and Felicity Burns

Why aren’t we more comfortable discussing the inevitable topic of death and dying?

It is a reality we all must face, yet many of us have little exposure to death and shy away from these conversations.

​Our discomfort often stems from a mix of fear, cultural influences, emotional strain, uncertainty, communication hurdles, and coping mechanisms. 

​Nevertheless, having open and honest discussions about dying can bring significant benefits to both the person at the end of life and their loved ones. These conversations offer opportunities to express feelings and wishes, address fears, and make plans for end-of-life care.

​In 2021, a pilot program aimed at providing carers of someone in their last days with practical knowledge and resources found that all participants reported an increased understanding and awareness of what to expect when someone is dying. Last Days, a community-based program, was developed from this pilot and is designed to equip carers for what lies ahead.

​While many of us may not have practical knowledge about dying, a gap that can be particularly pronounced is in rural and regional areas where palliative care support services may be scarce. In recognising this need, the Last Days program is expanding its reach to these underserved communities, aiming to provide much-needed support and resources.

​Family members and carers of someone at the end of life often feel isolated and overwhelmed as they navigate unfamiliar territory, making programs like Last Days essential in empowering them with knowledge and tools to provide compassionate care.

​The workshops offer practical guidance and link to local palliative care support services, ensuring that carers have access to resources throughout their journey.  

​Palliative care plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life and the dying experience, yet access to these services remains unequal, especially in regional areas. Last Days program is vital in bridging this gap, providing families and caregivers with education and assisting in navigating end-of-life care with confidence and compassion.

​In a country where approximately 160,000 people die each year, it is imperative that we equip carers, families, and communities with the knowledge and resources to provide quality end-of-life care to all. By breaking the silence and fostering open discussions about death and dying, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to approach the end of life with peace, dignity, and compassion.

​ Palliative care requires health professionals and the person, along with their family and carers, to maximise quality of life, care planning, facilitate end-of-life conversations, and manage symptoms. In regional Australia, where workforce shortages and vast distances mean palliative services may be limited, programs like Last Days equip families and carers with this education can make a huge difference.

​To find out more about Last Days Workshops in your area, visit https://www.hammond.com.au/palliative-centre/last-days-program 

This blog has been re-published from ARIIA.


Suzanne Sara

Clinical Nurse Specialist, leading the Last Days workshops

​​The Dementia Centre, HammondCare​ 



Felicity Burns

General Manager, Health and Hospitals

The Dementia Centre, HammondCare​



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The views and opinions expressed in Palliative Perspectives are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.