Ninety-five percent of the time that we are dying, grieving, or caring… we are NOT in a doctor’s office. Most of our experiences in health, wellbeing, dying and grief happen in the places where we abide and frequent in our everyday lives–our homes, schools, workplaces, churches & temples, parks and neighborhoods.
We all have a fair amount of public health knowledge about the value of exercise and what to eat to stay healthy. We understand the importance of seat belts and bike helmets to reduce harm from accidents. We have policies in place to help prevent workplace discrimination. But where are the health and wellbeing policies, public education and awareness programs for death, dying, and grief? The aim of Deva Nation’s Public Health Social Palliative Care Movement is to get the level of public health information and education about dying and grieving to the level of awareness that public health efforts have brought to nutrition, exercise, diabetes, and smoking.
Since 95% of the health and wellbeing of dying and grief happens outside of professional care, developing compassionate social action for the end of life journey is in our hands. Compassion is more than action in time of need – it must include prevention, harm reduction and early intervention. Our current public health vision needs to move forward to include matters to do with death and loss. We can’t stop death and grief, but we can create policies, practices, education and awareness campaigns to help prevent, reduce harm, and provide early intervention for the isolation, depression, loss, and serious illness that surround our journeys through dying and grief.