Is Your Community Death-Friendly?

As the world’s population ages, more older adults are making plans for their future and may be considering a move to a more age-friendly community where transportation, social activities, services, and shopping is accessible.  Along with being age-friendly, seniors and their loved ones may also want to investigate the support systems available for a community to be considered death-friendly.  

According to a recent article in The Conversation, a death-friendly community would value the end of life as a meaningful stage that should be valued, lived, and supported.  By normalizing death, dying, grief, and bereavement, people within communities can support one another and rely less on the medical system.  

When end-of-life practices shifted in the 1950s in Canada from the home to hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other institutions, more people became distanced from the experience of death.  With greater separation between life and the process of death, dying has become a source of fear for many people. 

The fear and anxiety surrounding death have also led to a greater distancing between older generations and young people who don’t want to be reminded of their own inevitable aging and mortality.  To combat ageism, communities must work to be inclusive for people of all ages and give elders the respect they deserve.   With a more open approach to aging and death, people of all ages are given more room to experience grief and receive compassion from their community. 

A compassionate community helps bring death out of institutions and back into the public sphere. End-of-life discussions would be normalized in schools, workplaces and more supports would be put in place for bereavement, helping to demystify death and allow for a better experience at the end of life for individuals and their loved ones. 

Interested in getting involved to make your community more compassionate about serious illness, caregiving, dying, and grieving?  Learn more about The Compassionate City Charter – a framework to raise awareness and improve planning and accountability related to death and dying, by following this link