A 2018 survey conducted by Dying Matters, in association with Hospice UK, revealed that 15% of those asked think that merely talking about death will make it happen.

Though this response is far from rational, when culturally death is seldom openly talked about, fear is a typical outcome. This reluctance to engage with the topic of death could be a reason why so many of us put off making a will. 

But with the rise of Death Cafes, which have increased in popularity to meet the need to talk about death, that culture is changing. Furthermore, today there are many richer options for marking the end of our lives, which also helps us to consider our plans for our end-of-life ceremonies and to consider what we are leaving behind.

Death cafes are getting us talking

Talking about death can feel very uncomfortable, but doubtless there is a strong need for us to engage meaningfully with this unavoidable part of our experience. In 2011, John Underwood created a non-profit death cafe inspired by the Swiss Cafe Mortel, with a view to taking the topic of death into our communities.

At a death cafe, people from all walks of life and experience assemble to talk about death over tea and cake. Although death cafe spaces aren't set up specifically for the purposes of providing talking therapy, many who attend inevitably end up talking with others about their own experiences, which are supported by a structure that involves asking questions such as 'What things do you think make for a good death?'

Such topics help to normalise the subject of death and enable those attending to integrate the reality of death into their lives. 

Different ways to mark a life

Though the traditional religious funeral service remains popular, the manner of burial for many has changed in recent years. Businesses like The Green Funeral Company are offering a variety of environmentally friendly options to those planning the ceremonies of a loved one, or those planning ahead. 

With growing awareness of our impact on the natural world, the way in which we approach our death is enabling more conversation to take place around it: do we want to be buried or cremated? Would a woodland burial enhance rather than diminish the environment? How long will my casket take to decompose? These questions and more are helping us to integrate the idea of death into our lives more readily.

Talking can help us to feel prepared

Talking to friends, talking to family and talking to other people, whether in a community setting or in a supportive capacity such a therapists's office, can help us to engage with the reality that death happens to us all. And, contrary to the above survey results, talking can reassure us that raising the topic in a safe environment will not bring death upon us sooner.

No one knows which day they will complete their lives, but we can help to make a difference to those we leave behind by ensuring our wishes are met and those we love are looked after.

Write your will and send a lifeline to others

This Wills Month, legal firms across the county have signed up to support those looking to write or update their wills. Because they recognise the lifesaving work our critical care teams deliver every day, these firms are donating half their standard will-writing fees to Devon Air Ambulance.

In 2017 we attended almost 1,000 patients from Devon communities, and thankfully we are able to save many lives. One thing that unites most of our patients is the fact that they didn't know they would need to be airlifted that day.

There are some things you just can't plan for, but by talking with a supportive legal expert we can be as prepared as possible. 

Are you keen to update or write your will, and support our helicopters at the same time?

Find a solicitor near you who has signed up to our Wills Month scheme.