The only thing worse than talking about death is not talking about death.
Despite my cordial relationship with death, I continue to be amazed when it catches me by surprise. I have a stoic mindset when it comes to death: memento mori, remember, death is coming. And still, I was rattled when several famous–and not famous–died this past year who were right around my age. I have been reminded multiple times to prepare for the day when I’m gone and the number of reminders seems to increase with age.
If you have ever been the executor of an estate, you probably know what can go wrong when people don’t face into their imminent demise, and how hard it can be on the people who remain. Very often they’re grieving and they’re having to deal with a lot of decision-making and administrative BS.
Our society’s aversion to talking about death is compounded by the fact that we humans are notoriously bad at predicting what we will want in the future. So we have to make a lot of best guesses and we also have to have someone we trust to do the best that they can do knowing what they know about us. And the first step is saying very plainly what you think you want to have happen, and then have a conversation about it.
It also helps to talk to other people about this subject, and I recommend some of the circles hosted by Healing Circles Global on this topic including Dying without the elephant, We all die: let’s talk about it, and Death and dying. Healing circles are offered free of charge but donations are gratefully accepted and help keep everything running, you can sign up for healing circles here: https://healingcirclesglobal.org.
One thing that we did recently with the help of my sister was to reserve niches that hold cremation urns. There are now seven niches that are co-located for various members of our families. And surprisingly, instead of feeling morbid about it, I feel relieved. We’ve taken a step in our end-of-life preparations and no one will have to guess what needs to happen.
If you haven’t already, I hope you will talk to your near and dear ones about your final act. I feel passionate about this topic and plan to revisit it in future posts. How about you? Any wisdom to share? Any books or resources that you have found helpful?
I recently came across videos by quilter Zak Foster. He has a video on burial quilts that is thought-provoking and worth a watch. Zak Foster and his burial quilts
As a quilter, I found it reassuring somehow. Maybe you will, too.
A few books are included below. If you have suggestions, please reply to this email. I would love to hear from you
A Beginner’s Guide To The End: Practical advice for facing death and living life by BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande