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Should Children Be Taught About Death At School?

The Australian Medical Association Queensland has received a proposal to include ‘death education’ into their lesson plans, in the same way that other social subjects are discussed with school pupils, BBC reported.

Doctors have argued that due to improvements in medicine and healthcare, more people are living to an older age, and many end up facing difficult decisions about how to treat their elderly relatives during their last days. However, people in the West are ill-equipped emotionally to deal with these choices.

If children were more used to the subject of death, they would be able to make well-thought out decisions, instead of emotional ones, the doctors stated.

Speaking with the news provider, Queensland GP Dr Richard Kidd said: “I have seen people as young as 21 being thrust into the role of power of attorney.”

He commented that many do not know how to deal with their bereavement, let alone the legal complexities surrounding a person passing away, as parents tend to avoid talking about it with their children.

“We need to start preparing young people and getting them to have tough conversations with their loved ones,” Dr Kidd stated.

For instance, while most people in Australia say they would like to die at home, only 15 per cent do. One of the reasons behind is because they have not had the discussion with their family to tell them how they would like to die.

‘Death education’ would not necessarily be specific lessons focused on dying, but incorporated into biology, medicine, ethics and law. Children would learn legal jargon regarding end-of-life care and mental and physical capacity; they would become more familiar with the biological process of the body dying; and they would be taught practical information, such as how to draw up a care plan.

As well as learning new facts, the advantage of including death in children’s education is to open up the conversation about it. Not only will this benefit the kids themselves, but also their relatives.

Dr Kidd noted that by having these chats with elderly members of the family, children can discover how their relatives would like to pass away, which will help in the future when they approach death.

“Information and knowledge can be really empowering to people,” explains the GP, who hopes Australian education authorities will accept the proposal and adapt lesson plans to include more conversation about death.

If this is rolled out in Australia, it might not be long before British schools follow suit. This might increase the number of people who are comfortable talking about death, after Co-op revealed only a third of Brits do not try and avoid the subject when it is brought up.

Indeed, 53 per cent believed having more open conversations about dying would have helped them deal with the death of a loved one.

One of the things you can discuss with your relatives is what funeral order of service you would like, so you can be sure the right hymns and readings are chosen for your memorial.

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