More ‘die-logues’ around end-of-life issues

by | March 29, 2021

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 from now till April 4, 2021.


(** PHOTO CREDIT: Lien Foundation)

1 Comment

  1. Stephen Teng

    Without full knowledge & understanding, how does one discuss death openly,
    if one does not know where to go after death ? Which is more important: our earthly life of at most 120 yrs or life after
    death in eternity, which never ends ? Therefore, should not one also plan for one’s eternity after death? It may be
    futuristic, extraterrestrial & unlikely concepts to comprehend, but it definitely affects every human being, young & old
    on this earth, including the ones in Singapore. Everyone has to enter eternity after death, whether one likes it or not.
    However, what credentials does one need?

    Birth & death is part & parcel of human life on earth, just like spring & winter or planting & harvesting cycle. Life goes
    on & is replaced by someone else. So, if one has done his/her best in life & has prepared well for his/her eternity, he/she
    will have no angst at all to talk about death. However, life on this earth is just a fraction of eternity. Is each one of us
    prepared for eternity or does death end all & everything in this earth & there is nothing else after death. Is it really so?
    If it is really so, then be it.

    However, common sense, logic, conscience & the awe of the universe suggest otherwise. If this is so, should we not prepare
    for eternity? On earth, we are very meticulous in acquiring a career, car, house, marriage, etc, so that we have a satisfied
    earthly life. Then what about one’s eternity? Should not one be as meticulous in preparing for one’s eternity, which has no
    end? Should not one have eternity with bliss with the Creator, rather than His enemy, who comes in many disguises as angel
    of light? Should not one investigate how this can be done in this life, while we have all the time to do so?

    Ancient scriptures point to a Creator & this Creator is the God of Abraham, who has been highly regarded by the Jews, Christians
    & Muslims alike. Can this long history people be wrong? This Creator also caused only one sinless person in the whole universe
    history to be born of a virgin birth, to live & sacrifice his life for the sins of the human race & after 3 days, to be raised
    from death to be with Him to intercede for us, upon one’s acknowledgment & acceptance. So, should not one get reconciled with
    Him before it is too late? It is really one’s choice/decision for the type of life one wants for eternity. If there is no eternity,
    one has nothing to lose, as everything ends here. But, what if eternity exists, then where will one be found?

    When we came into this world, we had no choice for obvious reason, but now that we are matured & before death, we have a choice
    to enter the kind of eternity: bliss or torment; heaven or hell in all eternity. Can we afford to squander away this choice/decision
    eternally with no second chance? Do we want to regret at all for all eternity?


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