When are we going to start talking about death?

I don’t know what it is about the year 2016, but it seems like everyone is dying. We’ve lost Prince, Mohammed Ali, David Bowie – and then there was Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul – and then Jo Cox, just to mention a few. I feel overwhelmed by death. Every time I hear about an attack or a passing, it feels closer and closer to home (even if it’s not). I cry, and I feel like I shouldn’t because it hasn’t happened “to me”.  It’s like a snowball effect.

Actually it’s more like I have a limit to how much death I can take/hear about and I think I’ve pretty much reached it. You would think it would be the opposite, that I would be becoming more and more desensitised, but that is not the case and I think I know why.

No one talks about death until it happens — then it’s big news for a day or so and then it goes silent again. We don’t want to talk about it again. We might talk about the after effects, the memorials, the lawsuits , the politics behind it, but no one talks about the fact that someone died and what that really means.

It’s a taboo to talk about the fact that someone died – it’s morbid, it’s distasteful and it’s sad. But that pisses me off, because it’s the only thing that is 100% absolutely certain and inevitable and true. The only reason talking about death has a stigma is because we gave it one.

Is it really that big of a deal? Does it really mean anything? It’s sad, yes, and yes it can change the lives of the people left behind, but life is sad and life changes. Shouldn’t death just be another form of change that we should welcome and discuss? If we talked about it more I think it would be less scary, less of a big deal, more real.  It’s like periods – why does nobody talk about them? Why have we just had the first advert with actual blood in it? Why are woman embarrassed when a tampon falls out of their handbag? It’s totally natural …just like death. Death will hurt regardless of whether we talk about it or not, but am I wrong in thinking that it would be a little bit more bearable if you could bring it up at a dinner party without feeling like you’re darkening the mood?

I don’t remember the last time I had a conversation about what happens after death. It’s a huge unknown for most people. Which partially explains why people don’t want to talk about it? People don’t like talking about what they don’t understand. That’s fair for things like Quantum Physics – I could go my whole life ignoring Quantum Physics and I would be just fine. But death is going to happen to all of us. So wouldn’t we do ourselves a favour by just talking about it. And not just when someone dies, but all the time. We should it a part of life, teaching our children not to fear it, but teaching them the value of time and the finite nature of our experience on this earth.

We all ignore death in our day to day lives. We don’t think about it until it happens and when it does we are totally lost at sea. No one knows what to say, what to feel, what to share online…When to stop crying, when to go back to work and of course, when to start living again. There is no rule book with death, but if we remembered every now and then that it will happen, and we spoke about it a bit more and a bit more openly, I think it would help us live richer and less ignorant lives. I think we would all be a bit less scared of saying what we think and of following the path less travelled. It would be so cool if everyone changed their fear of death into a love a life.

I know that is so cliche but man it is so true. Fear is such a bitch, but why are we all fearing something that WILL happen? IT WILL HAPPEN – MULTIPLE TIMES! I think amazing things can happen when you accept death as part of life. I’m not exactly speaking from experience, but from now on I’m definitely going to give it a try.

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4 thoughts on “When are we going to start talking about death?

  1. I haven’t studied it much but they say in other cultures death is talked about and accepted more, and of course is seen as a natural occurrence. But there is so much fear attached to it for many other people. And maybe it is because we don’t talk about it. Maybe it’s time to change that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jo,
      I agree with you.

      As with anything, if it’s bottled up it becomes far worse than it should be; hence the fear.

      Death is indeed part of life. If things don’t die, we don’t live (we have to eat!) and if we don’t die the world will be too crowded for us to live in.

      One problem about this fear of speaking about it is that people don’t prepare themselves (or members of their family) for death even when they are in their 80s, which brings with it a whole host of problems when they do die. For instance I can’t believe that Price died without a will!

      The task for us is to talk to our families about it: what kind of quality of life we would like in our old age, how we’d like to die and what happens to us when the inevitable does happen, because happen it will. This is important as fewer of us are going to have ‘unexpected’ deaths.

      If we start with our own family and friends, perhaps we can start a tradition here in the West and the stigma will slowly be removed.

      Like

  2. For most people the unknown is pretty scary. I suppose if a person could sit in a room with people who have already died, it might be easier. They would have proof from people who have been there, done that. I find that seniors are comfortable talking about death. I spend a lot of time with them facilitating “friendly conversations.” We talk about anything. They have been there and done so many things that I believe they are just ready to take their talk to the next level, which would be end of life. My mother is 80. She always says: “I’m ready!” Admittedly, we all tend to suss her up when she starts voicing her opinion about her “ready-ness.” It’s hard to think of the family matriarch leaving for the spirit world where we can’t hug her, or hear her voice. But I do understand when she just wants to prepare us, as she’s there. I suspect if more people were living the lives they wanted to live, and were making the mark they hoped to make on the world, they might be ready to discuss death in real-time. Just my thoughts! Oh, and I’m OK with talking about death, because I know it’s a part of life. It comes with the territory!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the idea of being able to have a real conversation with people who have passed away! I think that would take the edge off for most people. I always find that old people are much more ‘prepared’, esp when their lives have been quite fulfilled (and/or they’re not able to do as much anymore!)

      Thanks for your insightful comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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