Thursday, July 7, 2022

Families failing on “Taboo Topics”?

Have you ever found that subjects relating to death and death wishes are very difficult to talk about?

When it comes to topics on end-of-life or terminal illness a lot of people are uncomfortable addressing their wishes.

While a will is usually opened after the person is deceased and is usually about material wealth, end-of-life wishes are definitely more important to a person, after all living with dignity and more so dying with dignity is what every human deserves a right to.


How do you have “that” conversation, without it being too much of a tear jerker?

Well, tear jerker it will be or at least it will definitely rake up deep feelings with meaningful conversation and I sincerely urge everyone to think about having the conversation sooner rather than later especially once you hit your fifties, yes as soon as that, your fifties.

For one, your nerves will be able to take it better and you will lift a huge burden off your shoulders as well as that of your family’s and maybe you may be way too ill to express your final wishes at that point.  Death and dying will continue to remain largely taboo topics so careful planning is vital.


Legal documents are one aspect, which can be done clinically through a lawyer.

Our country does not recognise a ‘living will’ as a legal document; hence you will need to take into confidence your family doctor, your children or a trusted friend to honour your wishes.

The level of medical intervention, palliative care and your final wishes of how and where you would like to be put to rest are really the main concerns.


A report, based on a survey of older adults reported — 


83% agreed that as a community, death and dying is not discussed enough.


18% did not have a current will, 88% were older adults and very few in the age group 50-60 had a will.


Under 8% had their death wish conversations about palliative care and end-of-life wishes.


Under 5% felt confident having the conversation with their doctor, friend or family member.

As high as 54% wished for home care in their final stages, free of pain and surrounded by loved ones.


Based on these reports, Dignity, Respect and Choice to plan the final chapter of Life —


  • Needs people to expand programs on the taboo topic of death literacy. 
  • Create awareness of the palliative care centers available in our country.
  • Recommendations by health personnel to their patients on the choices available for future planning of care and medical intervention.
  • Access to counseling to help impact the psychological and emotional responses of both the caretaker and the patient.
  • Low-cost legal arrangements to keep all legal documents updated and in-place.

All these are much needed on a large scale as current demographics show that old age now begins at eighty and people are living to their nineties.


How you cope with this turmoil can change a lot in your life. Bereavement does make you feel you are all on your own and that nobody can really help you in your two-person team as the caretaker or the patient, you really are on your own for the final curtain. Putting all things into perspective ahead of time will guarantee a smoother ride and give the soul rest. 


Life goes on, you got to be able to keep running, and new experiences will crop up. 

So hang in there. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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