Monday 4 November 2019

It's OK to Talk About Death. But How?

So, probably not the uplifting, feel good opening to a blog that you’d normally expect but I just found myself watching a segment of This Morning where Jim Carter was chatting to Phil and Holly about the taboo of talking about death and I found myself needing to write more about this.

It resonated with me so much because we recently experienced such a huge family loss and often, you find that until that time comes, you never consider it.
And you shouldn’t, to some respect. You can’t live life waiting for that to happen and some people obviously experience it suddenly and don’t get that chance.

However the point of this particular segment was that they were discussing the fact that we are so ready to shun conversations about death and quickly shush people who make statements like "well, when I die..." just casually. And in many ways, that's not helpful because it means that so many people are left completely clueless, alone and with a lot of pressure when a loss does happen.

Marie Curie have recently set up an advertising campaign to encourage people to be more open about death and that's where this discussion has stemmed from. On their website, they break down our attitude to death and the different ways we cope, we refer to it, we celebrate life in general. And having just lost someone very close to me, I really do welcome this campaign.
We knew we were going to face our loss and so although things were talked about and discussed, we aren't a particularly open family in some respects and I really don't think we're the only ones, hence why I think this initiative is great.

When the time comes there are so many things you wouldn't have considered, so many things that probably weren't discussed or talked about and although it's difficult, emotional and upsetting, the slightest little bit of information could help those facing the loss later on. I've talked to friends and family lately about how bizarre I found some of the traditions and processes around death and marking a death and so many have agreed that whilst there's a formality about proceedings and that marks a lot of respect for those who have passed, it sometimes can seem un-natural and un-realistic when you are such laid-back, casual people and you haven't really talked about it. And I think opening up the conversation around death would definitely help. Attitudes and processes surrounding death differ across the world but a lot of what we know of end of life and funerals comes from what we see on TV until we are faced with those situations ourselves.

It is a sensitive subject, it is hard to confront and many of us just don't feel comfortable with these conversations and discussions but I think it's great that there's a campaign to open this up and I wanted to share that.
I also wanted to share something which may seem trivial and odd to some but something I found incredibly useful and comforting after the recent passing of my grandad.

A while ago, I purchased a gift for my grandparents to mark their wedding anniversary and it was two journals, one for each of them, which had questions on each and every page. Things like "tell me about where you grew up", "what did you do to pass time as a child?", "who was your hero or biggest influence?" and the purpose was for them to write in the book, fill it out and hand it back to me when they'd completed it, so that I could read about their lives and their thoughts and opinions.

At the time of buying these, we had no idea grandad was ill and it was just a thoughtful gesture because I loved listening to tales of their lives but didn't often get the opportunity to have those chats. Grandad was a quiet, respectful man and a man of very few words and so this book proved to be eye-opening and incredibly helpful when we re-discovered it upon his passing. It helped us reminisce, helped us to make arrangements, and gave me a little piece of him that I can always refer back to and read.
If you and your family find such conversations hard or simply have regrettably had few opportunities to discuss and reflect on lives and your memories, then I would strongly recommend these books which you can buy for all members of family, friends and even yourself. The one I bought was by From You to Me as part of their Journals of a Lifetime range and was suggested to me by a friend but you can purchase them via this link.

A different post but one to get us all thinking.

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