If you didn’t know, this post is part of a series of 7 that I am doing as part of Winnie Kao’s Your Turn Challenge. Seven blog posts in seven days. Besides daily writing, the only other stipulation is that the posts be about something that shows your point of view.
Day 1 I shared a post on mindfulness and fear that was almost done before I’d even heard of the challenge. Day 2 I shared a post on how your fearful thoughts lie that I wrote the day before. Day 3 (today), I took a look at Winnie’s list of possible questions to answer and I felt a familiar tug.
The question was: “Tell us about something you think should be improved.”
Sounds like a simple enough question, but this pulled at me from a deep place because it asked me for my opinion.
For much of my life, I have avoided giving my opinion on things, especially things that can be debated or disagreed on by others.
I’ve let fear of what others think or fear of whether my opinion is “good enough” or “smart enough” or fully formed enough get the best of me.
Even though I’ve been blogging for over a year now, I still find myself often filtering out many of the thoughts and ideas that I really have.
In this moment, I’m answering the call, fear and all, and sharing my opinion on something.
So what do I think should be improved?
I think that the way that we talk (or don’t) about death and dying, at least in the West, needs a major overhaul.
We are not prompted enough to think about our mortality in a way that encourages being in the moment, appreciating life and living from a place that recognizes that tomorrow is not promised.
This leads to a deep denial and avoidance of the reality of death, end of life regrets and end of life decisions or outcomes that could have been made less difficult and heart breaking if talked about before.
Death can be terrifying. I’m not trying to downplay it nor am I acting like I’m immune to the warmth of denial.
But if thought about differently, what besides knowing, really knowing, that one day you will be gone, could make you stop and experience life more, let go of the petty shit more, set things up so that your loved ones don’t face hardship or unnecessary difficulties after you’re gone and just take time to make sure you are living the best life possible?
Given the advances that we have made in life prolonging healthcare, death and dying is often so hidden that the only time one faces, I mean really faces, the idea that death is inevitable for us all is when someone close to them has died or is dying.
So many of us only consider our mortality when someone dies and rarely before.
For something that is actually one of the very few universal facts for us all, it’s sad to me that it’s become such a fearful and taboo topic.
We pretend as though we will live forever and think that in doing so we are not hurting anyone, but living with the knowledge that you will die at some point can make each moment more precious and meaningful.
As I mentioned above, one of my fears is that my opinions are not fully formed enough.
In this case, I feel that how we talk about and deal with death and dying needs to be improved, but I don’t have a ready made answer on how to get us there.
But maybe there is no ready made answer.
Death is universal to us all, but how we approach it is likely not.
Some people might use their religion or spirituality to make sense of it, some come at it from a more pragmatic point of view. Perhaps it’s as simple as making “Mortality 101” a required class you take in school like biology or algebra, which I admit is probably not that simple.
I honestly don’t even care about the how, I’d just like to see it happening more.
I do my little part by talking about death to the people around me who are willing to discuss it, making sure that I temper my own tendency to deny the finite nature of my life, and supporting the growing movement of death aware Facebook groups, blogs, and books (Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory are good ones and both affiliate links, which just means that if you choose to buy them I will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you, thanks if you do).
Do you think we talk enough about death? Too little? Too much? How have you dealt with your own mortality?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please leave a comment!