More ‘die-logues’ around end-of-life issues
A new graphic novel addresses these complex, weighted questions.
Is life-sustaining treatment always the best way forward? A conversation about death is often difficult to broach – where and when do we begin to talk about the end-of-life planning for our loved ones or ourselves?
A new graphic novel commissioned by the Lien Foundation and illustrated by local artist James Tan hopes to address these complex, weighted questions. Titled, “All Death Matters”, the 72-page publication invites healthcare professionals and members of the public to glean insights into the emotionally-sensitive and complex issues that confront attending physicians, the dying, and their loved ones.
“All Death Matters” marks the first graphic novel in Singapore that spotlights the topic of end-of-life and palliative care; and is the latest project as part of the Lien Foundation’s ongoing Life Before Death initiative to improve care for the dying in a rapidly-ageing Singapore. The initiative, which started in 2006, seeks to spark “die-logues” through the use of diverse platforms such as digital media, art, design, film, photography and research. This is also the Foundation’s second collaboration with James Tan, following the warmly-received.”All That Remains”, which sheds light on the struggles faced by persons with dementia and their caregivers.
A nationwide study by the Singapore Management University in 2019 found that 53.3 percent of Singaporeans are comfortable discussing end-of-life matters and issues concerning their own death, as compared to 36 percent in 2014.
“The denial of death often deters us from thinking about how we can leave well. Graphic medicine, which is the use of comics as resources in enabling the discussion of difficult subjects or relating the patient and care provider experience, is a creative and understated way in encouraging Singaporeans to ponder about their end-of-life experience. More importantly, we hope to encourage healthcare professionals to reflect the perception of their roles alongside terminally-ill patients and their loved ones,” said Gabriel Lim, programme director at Lien Foundation.
The comic captures the fictional narrative of a young doctor working in a hospital, and hopes to draw attention to the dilemmas and questions surrounding end-of-life planning and the importance of palliative care. “All Death Matters” draws inspiration from real-life experiences of healthcare professionals in Singapore, and was further reviewed by doctors who offered their anecdotal insights. Readers will be taken through the all-too-familiar scenario of the encounter of a family grappling with the end-of-life of a loved one, and having hard decisions to make; and for healthcare workers, having to handle the spectrum of emotions and communication that accompany such scenarios, while providing the best level of care.
“All Death Matters” will be available for loan at all public libraries from mid-April 2021. The Foundation is also giving away 100 copies of the publication to interested members of the public at http://bit.ly/admgiveaway from now till April 4, 2021.
(** PHOTO CREDIT: Lien Foundation)