This blog has been prompted by a post I read on Two Rooms Plus Utilities blog today coupled with the sad news of David Bowie’s death. The author of Two Rooms Plus Utilities has a progressive chronic illness and knows roughly her life expectancy. Today her blog threw out a lot of questions about death, how to prepare for it and why is it still such a taboo subject. I struggled to respond to her helpfully at the time as I really do not understand why we do not speak of it more, I mean it is the one thing that we can guarantee will happen to all of us, regardless of our race or religion – it is only our opinions of what happens to us next that differs.
We hope that death will come in old age having seen our children, grand children and if we are lucky our great grand children grow up, peacefully in our sleep and not following an illness, however as medicine advances and life expectancy increases for many of us this is not the case. For far too many people though dying happens far too young either as a baby/child or as a young person who has not had the opportunity to do all the things in life he or she had hoped for.
Knowing this is the case why do we not talk about our plans more? I will never forget losing my best friend in his early twenties. The evening before he died we had gone out and having both in recent times had what could be considered near death experiences (me my car accident, and he a brain hemorrhage) he asked me what song would I have played at his funeral, initially I was taken aback and said I wouldn’t answer that, then I asked him what he would have played had my car accident had a different outcome. At which point we both laughed clinked our glasses and said Stand By Me by Ben E King, it was a song that we always played when we met up and the film of the same name was one we watched with his brother and another friend. It summed the four of us up. Little was I to know that less than 4 hours later he was to suffer another hemorrhage and die. Stand By Me was played at his funeral as he arrived at the church and I sobbed a mixture of sad and happy tears. To this day over a decade later that song can still have the same effect on me either joyous singing or floods of tears! It is a song I know for sure that my family will play at my funeral as I have expressed it clearly.
I can’t help but think knowing roughly when your time is up gives you so many more things to think of, how and when to say your goodbyes to people, fear of what the last few days/weeks/months will be like and with the plethora of information on the internet these days you cannot escape some of the information. My parents have a funeral plan and have expressed certain things within their plan and I can’t help but think this is a good way forward. When you lose a loved one you are grieving and understandably have a mixture of emotions, if you chuck into this having to plan and organise a funeral it becomes a very difficult time, especially when other family members may have different views. My mother in law has given me a letter to open upon her passing in which she has written her plans regarding the funeral what hymns/songs she’d like things like that.
I think we should all maybe consider something similar as adults, I know as youngsters we feel invincible and so we feel there is no need for this, but what about if we all spoke more freely about death, wouldn’t that change our views. That way we could ensure that our final goodbye is of our own planning and take some of the stress and decision making away from our grieving loved ones. My wife and I have been talking about this and it is easier if you have a plan. It may not cut out all the disagreements from those left behind especially as emotions will be running high but if you have expressed your own clear views.
So instead of making it morbid I am going to talk to my family and between us plan my final farewell, the taboo will be gone and I hope for others it can be too. There is no need to wait until we have been given bad news and a time frame, or worse still for it to be a shock accident or death and there can be no disagreements between family as it will be my wishes that are being carried out. Then by planning all this fingers crossed it won’t happen for years 🙂