Death talk taboo must be tackled in Leeds

Linda Staniforth (centre) with two of her children, Scott and Nicola.
Linda Staniforth (centre) with two of her children, Scott and Nicola.
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Linda Staniforth died peacefully in her Yeadon home, surrounded by her loved ones, after a brave fight against cancer, because she talked to others about her last wishes.

Two of Linda’s three children, Nicola and Scott, are urging others to ensure their end of life wishes are met as Dying Matters Awareness Week reminds people that failing to discuss death can mean you risk leaving your family to pick up the pieces.

Charities, NHS trusts and Leeds City Council are aiming to break the established taboo of discussing death this week.

Linda, who was found to have cancerous tumours in her lung, brain and lymphnodes in 2013, asked a community nurse from Headingley’s Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice if she could spend her final days at home before passing away last May.

Nicola and Scott will mark the anniversary of Linda’s death by climbing Ben Nevis in aid of the Morrisons Raise a Smile link with Sue Ryder on May 31.

Nicola said: “A lot of people have lost somebody they love, and it’s very comforting to know that Mum died in the way she wanted – in her own home, peacefully and with dignity. She was comfortable, she had her family around her and she never lost her dignity.”

Events are taking place in Leeds to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week this year, including a get together featuring will writing and funeral planning advice, coffee and cake at St Gemma’s Hospice, in Moortown, today from 2pm to 4pm, and a session at Wheatfields tomorrow from 10am to 12noon.

Leeds’s three NHS clinical commissioning groups are urging people to write a list of things to do before they die at leedswestccg.nhs.uk/bucketlist, to start the conversation.

For more visit dyingmatters.org or sponsor Nicola and Scott at www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/trekkingforlinda.

Mitchell Kezin with veteran film director John Waters. Picture: Jeff Henschel

Film interview – Mitchell Kezin on his film Jingle Bell Rocks! which screens in Leeds