Terminal illness charity Marie Curie has launched the biggest ever public campaign to get more people planning for the end of life.

As part of the campaign, the charity has launched the first-ever nationwide TV advert to break down the taboo around death and dying. ‘Whatever you call it, we should all talk about it’, plays on the euphemisms people commonly use to avoid saying the word death including ‘pop your clogs’, ‘pushing up daisies’ and ‘kick the bucket’.

The charity has warned that people’s reluctance to talk about it means many of us feel unprepared and distressed when facing the end of life, either for ourselves or our loved ones.

To help people start thinking, sharing and planning for the end of life, the charity has revamped its award-winning blog with a brand new section called Talkabout.

Full of inspiring articles and interviews helping people broach difficult conversations around death and dying, Talkabout also links to the charity’s Information and Support pages which helps millions of people currently affected by terminal illness.

Later in the month, the charity will launch On the Marie Curie Couch, a thought-provoking podcast about death and dying which discusses how grief and bereavement shape the way we live our lives. In it, Marie Curie expert, Jason Davidson, chats to a host of well-known guests including Adam Buxton, Dustin Lance Black and Janet Ellis about their experiences and how they feel about their own mortality.

The charity has also produced a special deck of playing cards with questions designed to help friends and families open up and share their personal wishes. Available on Talkabout, they can be ordered for free here.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of Marie Curie said:

“At Marie Curie, we have been caring for people at the end of life for over 70 years. With our expertise and experience, we have developed some wonderful resources to help people start these important conversations.

“Our ageing population means it is increasingly important for families to have conversations, share their wishes and be prepared so that they have the best chance of a good end of life experience for themselves and those they leave behind.

“When we are bereaved we can experience avoidable regret, guilt, confusion, family conflict, and negative financial and legal impacts.

“While most of us say we are comfortable having these conversations, the reality is that many of us are not making any preparations as it feels a long way off or something that will cause unnecessary upset both for us and the people around us.

“But we need to plan more for the end of life, while there is still time to do so. Having these conversations early can be easier than having them when we, or someone we love, is dying.

New research commissioned in support of the campaign found that not being aware of someone’s final wishes left those bereaved struggling to cope with emotional wellbeing, financial matters, funeral arrangements and other issues as a result. 

These negative effects of not preparing for the end of life will be felt by more people as the number of people dying is set to increase sharply over the next 10 years.