I’ve had an idea for a long time that people get together and talk about end of life stuff. When I read about the Death Cafe, I thought it what a genius idea. The idea of people meeting up just to talk about death in all its forms makes my heart sing.
It’s easy to talk about birth
When I was pregnant all those many years ago, I was excited right from the very second the doctor told me I was pregnant. From that day on, I planned everything for the future of our baby. I wanted our baby to be healthy and it was going to have an amazing life.
I bought and read every book available. We went to birthing classes, visited the hospital and constantly talked about being pregnant and the future with our baby.
As my belly grew, so did my audience. I’d catch a train, strangers would embrace my stomach and talk about their birthing experience. I heard every birthing story, the ins, the outs, the good, the bad and the ugly. I was drenched in stories of strangers.
The future life conversations continue
Our beautiful baby girl was born and the conversations on her life began. Everything was monitored not only by me, but by other mothers too.
When she smiled; when she rolled over; crawled; stood up; walked, and the list goes on.
Constant conversations were had about how our children were progressing through life, the conversations about our lives were never ending.
Talking about schools, achievements, universities, careers, cars, love, disappointments, breakups, and the list goes on forever.
Death kills conversation
When the word death is even mentioned, conversation dies. It’s really natural for me to talk about death. Death is a part of life. If you’re born, you’re going to die, you know that don’t you?
Quite a few years ago, I was talking to a colleague about what I wanted to happen for the end of my life. After a short while, I realized he wasn’t engaging in the conversation at all. I looked at him and said, “Are you alright? You seem to have checked out.” He replied, “I can’t believe how natural you talk about death. I’m feeling really uncomfortable right now.”
It was that moment that I knew I was passionate about something that not many other people enjoyed talking about, or even felt comfortable about saying the word “death.”
Death is such a dirty word
Death is such a dirty word, we don’t even use the word “death” because it feels too confronting. People would rather say, passing away; gone to God; left us; passed over.
What is wrong with the word death? And why can’t we talk about it openly, especially when we have a loved one who is in the process of dying.
Let’s talk about death
Dr. Peter Saul did a TEDx talk on death and dying, in which he said that doctors don’t save lives, they prolong them. This is true. We now have a population that’s living longer than ever before. We’ve medicalised death, Dr. Saul talked about how most of us are dying in hospitals. Do you want to die in such a clinical environment? With strangers around you? Or would you like to have an end-of-life plan?
Of course, you don’t know when you’re going to die. But let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about death. Most people find it a difficult subject to talk about because there’s the myth that you’ll bring death to your door if you talk about it. Believe me, you definitely won’t.
What do you want to happen?
What’s wrong with letting people know what you want at end of life. Help your loved ones know exactly what you want to happen when you aren’t in the situation to let people know your wishes. You can actually have a discussion with your them, so they can feel at ease that they’re doing what you want. It makes it easier for your family, there can’t be any fights because they know exactly what you want.
When is the right time?
When I talk to my clients about sharing their wishes with their family, they say, “I’ve got to find the right time.” I reply, “Tell me when is the right time?” No one wants to think of you not being on this earth. But let’s make the time.
Be proactive and talk about death and call it death. Don’t use euphemisms and try to soften it. Maybe grieving will be accepted as a natural process. You know, you can talk about birth and living you’ve had thousands of conversations around that. Now change the conversations to the circle of life. Be proactive.
The wrap up
Start the conversation and talk about death, it won’t kill you. Help your family know what you want, to make it easier for them to complete your wishes if your unable to. Do you want to be put on life support or not? Do you want Do Not Resuscitate? Do you want a funeral? So much to talk about.
As Nike says, “Just do it.”
Let me know how you’re going to start the conversation.