Louise Winter and Anna Lyons from Life.Death.Whatever have a great TEDx talk on Showing up for death. I think you should watch it right now (10 minutes)
I’d like to add some comments. These are definitely NOT a criticism – but rather some points that came to my mind, as perhaps an addition.
Lots in this talk is incontrovertible. With death happening to 100% of us, we’re all going to have to Show Up for Death some time! And more and more people understand that we need to say it as it is: being up front, gently and with honesty.
I totally agree that Showing Up for Death can very definitely help all of us live a better life.
There’s much more in the talk I wholeheartedly agree with. I repeat, WATCH the talk ! So now, here are my comments / potential additions:
- The biggest thing I didn’t hear is how amazingly positive it can feel Showing Up for Death. It’s hard work. It’s painful. Sometimes it’s very very painful. But caring for someone at the end of life is about Love. It’s a positive thing to do. I have shared some of my own positive feelings (and a few of my tears) around my dad’s death in my Deathbed Skiing performance.
- Louise and Anna say that they often work on ‘Out of Order’ deaths. I would like to suggest that however much a family are prepared and ‘accepting’, then every death feels pretty Out of Order. And one of the big problems is when doctors don’t think a death is Out of Order, but the person and their family DO. I think more work unpacking this Out of Order concept would be very much In Order.
- Louise and Anna talk about letting parents of dying children be parents. I want to ask for this for adult children too, with their dying parents. When my terminally ill dad acted as my dad, it was important for me. And I know it was really important for him too. He kept on doing practical things long after it wasn’t sensible – just like I’d expect from my dad! But another really big thing my dad and I did together was around me preparing to grieve. He really Showed Up for me around that. Since I’d thought a lot / cried a lot / cried a lot more, then when the time came for him to die, I could really Show Up for him. And really help him die the way he lived: with even just the right amount of Deathbed Skiing.
- Lastly, Louise and Anna talked about inadequacies as a reason that people don’t Show Up. I think we need to be clear here that these are perceived / anticipated inadequacies. Let’s stop saying we’re inadequate – just like we need to stop saying there’s a tabu on talking about death. Seize the moment!
Seize the moment! You might never have it again!