Discussing death and dying

Date Published: 
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dr Kathryn Mannix talks about death and dying and the taboos associated with what is an inevitable part of everybody’s life. Kathryn is a palliative care physician a qualified cognitive behavioural therapist and is an award winning author of the thought provoking book “With the End in Mind”.




  • Why has it become taboo to discuss dying and death?
  • What suggestions do you have to reclaim the language of death and dying?
  • How does discussing this help patients and their families?
  • It can be difficult to start a conversation about dying- encouraging patients to say ‘ I love you’ ‘ I am sorry’ ’Thank you’ ‘I forgive you’ are often very important.
  • Advance care planning - how to begin the discussion.


Take home messages

  • Dying is a recognisable process, with clear stages and progression.
  • Describing normal dying to people gives them consolation and reduces their anxiety.
  • Most clinicians don't have a script for describing dying: it's a skill worth acquiring.
  • We should give preparation for death the same focused attention that we give preparation for birth.
  • Excellent NZ research shows that the most important aspect of 'safe' dying for people at the end of life is not where they die, but whether the right people are around them and whether they are treated as 'whole' people despite being frail and weary.





Kathryn Mannix
Palliative care physician

To contact Kathryn Click here.




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This presentation is intended for qualified health practitioners professional development and should not be relied upon for any other purpose. Any opinions offered are those of the presenter or other speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of Goodfellow Unit.