HEALTH: Wills aren’t the death of a party – Nurse urges ‘who gets what’ cultural shift

Thursday, 2nd August 2012

Susan Morris

Published: 2 August, 2012

A NURSE is recommending people throw “will parties” before they die in a new handbook aimed at making death “more straightforward and open”.

Susan Morris, who lives in Somers Town, has contributed to the Natural Death Handbook.

The 45-year-old, a trustee of the Natural Death Centre charity, spoke about her book at a launch event in the Horse Hospital in Russell Square, Bloomsbury.

Ms Morris said: “Bereavement is one of the biggest causes of debt in the UK. People don’t plan their goodbyes, their final moments, but you wouldn’t even go away on holiday without checking everything is in order, let alone go permanently.

“Dying is a closed shop. If you’re a white middle-class person in the borough you don’t talk about it – it’s not polite. But in countries like Ireland and India it’s very open.”

The handbook includes a form where people can make statements about various matters including what should happen to their pets, and their views on life support machines.

Ms Morris said parents should be honest about what’s in their will, and why. She added: “It’s a good time to say that ‘Yes I’m giving more to that sibling, but that’s nothing to do with love, and everything to do with them being in financial difficulty’.

“Each sibling should have a different colour of sticker and then stick it to the furniture they want. If the parent sees there are two different coloured stickers on one item then they can sort out who has it while they’re alive.

“It can be made into a big party, where people discuss death over dinner.”

Ms Morris is starting a website where bereaved people can rate funeral directors.

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