Early December

5 December 2017

Jan nudged me again to write a blog for Westmill and somehow I was prevaricating with the whirl of events in the States and my recent visit to the Hospice UK conference all jostling in my head. Then I heard an item on Radio 4 that I thought needed talking about.  A mother was talking very cogently and movingly about the impact of not being able to access her daughter’s facebook accounts since she died despite having had full permission to do so from her and being given all her passwords.  It turns out there is a mechanism available on facebook to ensure you are not left in this position but it is not well publicised and the majority of users are unaware of what might happen. For some people the continuation of a live facebook is anathema increasing their pain and feeling an intrusion into their private grief, for others, as in the case of this mother, it is lifeline back to their daughter, keeping her memory fresh and also preserving some wonderful photographs of her work as a make up artist.  The point is we need to know how to get our wishes honoured.  The way to do this is at the top right of your facebook page. There is a small triangle/down arrow. Click on this and select ‘Settings’. From there select ‘Legacy Contact’.  You can now choose the person who in effect becomes your facebook executor.

And now something for those not part of the Facebook world.

I was performing my show Outside the Box at the Hospice UK conference in Liverpool last week but was also able to attend other sessions which I found fascinating. As you might expect the event was attended by some wonderful, committed and knowledgeable people working to improve the lives of those living with life limiting illnesses.  So much creativity and commitment was on offer.  The session on lifetapes was very convincing to me. I had heard Sally Magnussen speak about developing this approach which she used with her mother who was living with dementia.  Essentially, you create a playlist of people’s key tunes.  You get around 25 so more than Desert Island Discs which I have often thought about for myself. These tunes are connected to key events, periods in someone’s life and bring with them stories and memories. They help carers learn more about the person they are working with but even more crucially they can alter the experience of the person living with dementia dramatically. There was film footage of people who were very withdrawn and unable to engage who became lively, laughing and talking with partners even beginning to talk having become silent or only making grunting sounds. I have resolved to make my list and write some words alongside each tune.  First up Ma Vlast by Smetana. The first piece of classical music that ever spoke to me.  Played every morning for a week in school assembly.  The surging sound of the river fills me up and lifts me forward.  And then My Sweet Lord vividly conveys the very mixed experience of the dreaded school disco.  How I hated them!  I felt totally out of my depth, I even remember running away home from one so overwhelmed was I by the smoke, the lights and the pressure to be the attractive chosen one.  But I did like that song and I loved dancing!  What’s your list?

For more information check out www.playlistforlife.org.uk