An article from Les Kemp, Vice Chair of Faiths Together in Croydon

"On the 20th of March I participated in event at the Braithwaite Hall Croydon on the topic of death, entitled     “Dying well takes planning”.

In preparation I considered what death meant to me as a Buddhist and I share my thoughts with you.

  1. Death is an event in a life, so life encompasses death. Understanding life/living must include understanding death.
  2. We look after our bodies during life, funerals/ cremations are a continuation of this care. Respect for the vehicle used to sustain a life when active is very important in death.
  3. A funeral is a celebration of a life not just mourning. Sadness in moderation but because life is a challenge to be taken on, death is not a failure it’s guaranteed.
  4. We do not know how long we will live so every day is an opportunity to face challenges, some may kill us but deep down we learn from the experience. When we are young facing challenges is a natural view but with age risk/challenge become barriers.
  5. The best we can do is manage the risk by talking to family and friends about what we would like done in the event of a sudden death and maintain and update a record of our wishes throughout our life………………wills, insurance, organ donation, up to date contact lists etc.

The event itself was well attended and started with a number of short 5 minute presentations on issues related to deaths in Croydon, hospice care, hospital end of life and trauma arrangements, registrar services, mortuaries and postmortems, funeral director services, and religious rites.

Three 20 minute table discussions were then used to explore views on services needed , improvements and future need provisions but more importantly personal experiences and fears of people at each of the tables coloured the outcomes and enriched the understanding of those engaged in the dialogue.

A few facts may be of interest:

  • 2600 deaths per year currently of which 25% are sudden deaths,
  • Half of all deaths occur in hospital people having come from Care homes (20%) and own homes 80% 

Rounding off the evening we made an affirmation to “ Make Croydon the best place to die”