We Need To Talk About Death

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
0101Stand By Me2016113020161203 (R4)

Mortality is often on Joan Bakewell's mind. She's in her eighties, many of her friends have died and older relatives went long ago. She's seen others die and doesn't find it frightening.

Given that death and dying are just part of the stream of human existence, she's baffled that so many of us shy away from the subject. Particularly given that many of us don't die 'well'.

While the UK ranks as one of the best places to die in the world, thanks to palliative care and the hospice movement, this obscures many worrying realities. Most people say they want to die at home but many don't achieve it, with half of us dying on an often busy hospital ward. Furthermore, painkillers like morphine are often prescribed too late and in too low a dose.

In this series, Joan Bakewell and her panel talk openly about what happens in Britain today when we die. She explores the choices open to us and confronts the very questions about death and dying that we fear the most.

In this opening programme, Joan considers what we can all do to take control of our own deaths. She explores a growing social movement in palliative care which encourages people to stand beside the dying to ensure they have a say in how and where they die.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Some clips: Courtesy of Healthtalk.

Joan Bakewell explores death and dying, confronting the very questions we fear the most.

0102Ease My Pain2016120720161210 (R4)

Joan Bakewell explores one of our greatest fears about death and dying: being in pain.

Joan Bakewell and her panel explore one of our greatest fears at the end of life - pain.

Pain comes in all shapes and sizes and the meaning we ascribe to it - our suffering - drastically shapes our experience of pain, and how we manage it.

Good symptom control at the end of life requires not only prescription of the right combination of medications, but also knowing when and how to take them. Many doctors are reluctant to prescribe opioids such as morphine until late in the course of disease, and often the doses are too weak. Furthermore, the health system often struggles to keep up with a patients changing symptoms as their disease progresses.

Joan explores what patients can do to better the situation. She dispels the myths about morphine and highlights the obstacles that most commonly hinder our chance of a so called 'good' death. She also discovers how religious belief can influence our experience of pain at the end of life.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Some clips: Courtesy of Healthtalk.

0103 LASTDeath Itself2016121420161217 (R4)

Joan Bakewell explores what happens in the days and hours that surround death itself.

Joan Bakewell and her panel consider the final days and hours that surround death itself. It's a time that we tend to shy away from, which perhaps explains why so much fear and uncertainty surrounds this time.

Joan explores the reality of dying and asks what we should expect in the final days and hours. She demystifies the dying process itself and considers the physical changes that someone may go through as they die. She also discusses the choices open to us and the care and support that should be in place at the end of life.

And you'd be surprised what you can do for your loved one after death has occurred. Relatives can take on any of the tasks traditionally carried out by funeral directors. It's even possible to keep a loved one's body at home for a while so friends and family can visit and, if they die in hospital, transport their body back home yourself.

Producer: Beth Eastwood

Some clips: Courtesy of Healthtalk.

0201Give My Body To Science20171213

Joan Bakewell and her panel explore what happens when you donate your body to science.

0202My Digital Legacy20171220

Joan Bakewell explores what happens to our digital assets when we die.

As we spend an ever increasing amount of time online, much of our lives, both professional and personal, have found their way onto the digital sphere.

So what happens to it all when we die? Should we view our digital assets much like our physical possessions? And, if so, how should we manage our digital legacies?

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

0203Bury Me at Sea20171227

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss how you can opt for a watery grave.

Although many people who have been buried at sea were sailors or navy personnel, anyone can have their body committed to the deep.

Few people choose the sea as their final resting place but, for those that do, there is a small band of funeral directors, skippers and coffin makers around the country who know how it's done.

A body can't be buried anywhere. There are designated sites around the country and a license is required to protect human health and the marine environment.

The Marine Maritime Organisation issues licences for burials in England. Applicants must supply a doctor's certificate to confirm that the body is free from infection and fever. It cannot be embalmed, must be lightly dressed in biodegradable clothing and tagged with durable ID.

The sea coffin itself looks a bit like a treasure chest. Built to withstand impact and to ensure it drops swiftly to the seabed, two hundred kilograms of iron, steel and concrete is strapped around the coffin and clamped to its base. To aid its sinking, dozens of holes are drilled into its softwood surface to let the seawater rush in.

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss this little known mode of burial and explore how our naval history has shaped modern day practice. Joan also gets some tips on the best way to scatter ashes at sea.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

0203Bury Me At Sea20171227

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss how you can opt for a watery grave.

Although many people who have been buried at sea were sailors or navy personnel, anyone can have their body committed to the deep.

Few people choose the sea as their final resting place but, for those that do, there is a small band of funeral directors, skippers and coffin makers around the country who know how it's done.

A body can't be buried anywhere. There are designated sites around the country and a license is required to protect human health and the marine environment.

The Marine Maritime Organisation issues licences for burials in England. Applicants must supply a doctor's certificate to confirm that the body is free from infection and fever. It cannot be embalmed, must be lightly dressed in biodegradable clothing and tagged with durable ID.

The sea coffin itself looks a bit like a treasure chest. Built to withstand impact and to ensure it drops swiftly to the seabed, two hundred kilograms of iron, steel and concrete is strapped around the coffin and clamped to its base. To aid its sinking, dozens of holes are drilled into its softwood surface to let the seawater rush in.

Joan Bakewell and her panel discuss this little known mode of burial and explore how our naval history has shaped modern day practice. Joan also gets some tips on the best way to scatter ashes at sea.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.