Dignified to the very end

CSP chair of council Alex MacKenzie hopes that our patron’s passing will help prompt more open conversations about preparing for a dignified death

CSP chair of council Alex MacKenzie
Alex MacKenzie CSP chair of council

The last few weeks have been a strange time for many of us. Whether you are a supporter of the monarchy or not, many people have expressed feeling adrift with the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. She was a constant for us throughout the entirety of many of our lives. Many people have felt unexpected grief, or memories of personal loss that have risen to the surface. And as with any major change, we need to allow ourselves to feel unsettled until we find our new normal.

For the CSP, she was our patron, taking on the role in 1953. She was a constant in our history. Her involvement, at the least, sending us annual greetings indicating she was aware of our activities, but at times, also attending our events such as the CSP’s Diamond Jubilee.

Without a doubt the Queen dedicated her entire life to service of her country. It has been heartwarming to hear the variety of stories being told from people who met the Queen across the years and how those meetings meant so much to people. We have also seen how other countries have viewed her life and the respect she was held in. She set many standards for behaviour, her dignity in public life and holding herself to her promises right to the end.

And with that same dignity the Queen prepared for her death. She expressed her wishes, not only for what might happen afterwards but also where she wanted to be in her final hours, which was at home with her family beside her. And rightly this is being held up as a great example of a ‘good death’. Generally we shy away from talking about death. I hope that this has helped in the ongoing work towards normalising death as a natural part of life, not ignoring it or pretending it will not happen. I hope that this will allow people to express their wishes for their death and to ensure their wishes are carried out. If we can normalise conversations about death, it should help relatives and carers to make the good decisions to allow patients to die peacefully at home, if they wish. Another shining example of good community care.

There is much to be celebrated in her 96 years of life, and I hope that we celebrate it all, including the peaceful, dignified manner of her death.

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