Talking Honestly about Death

Life, Parenting

I have just listened to the wonderful second episode of Clemmie Telford’s Honestly podcast (I also highly recommend the first episode with the brilliant Father and Mother of Daughters, Simon and Clemmie Hooper). Clemmie’s Honestly podcast is about speaking honestly about those subjects which are often taboo or brushed under the carpet; subjects which can be tough to talk about or difficult to bring up, maybe a bit embarrassing to talk about in front of friends or family. But, they do need to be talked about.

This episode deals with that subject that we all avoid – Death. I know I avoid it, as the sheer knowledge that I will die one day frightens me so much that I can’t bear to even think about it. It has scared me from a young age. I recall driving home from my grandfather’s house one dark, rainy evening with my mum, dad and brother. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. I started crying for no apparent reason. When my parents asked me what was wrong, I said ‘I don’t want you to die’. It really, really upset me to think this would happen one day and there would be no way I could stop it. The thought of living without them traumatised me.

As we get older and our families grow, we tend to change the way we feel about death. I guess, as it becomes more inevitable, we learn to accept it and face it head-on. But, becoming a mother makes the whole thing so much harder. Now we have to think about our children losing a parent as well as us losing our relatives. I don’t think I have ever really talked about this with anyone before because I am blocking it out of my mind completely as a way to avoid having to deal with such a huge fear of mine. My biggest fear. And I don’t know why I fear it. Why do I feel scared of dying? As the man in the song ‘Great Gig In The Sky‘ by Pink Floyd says, ‘Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve got to go sometime’. And I have lost some amazing people in my life. My grandmother died in 2002. We were close. She was strong. I thought, if she can do it, then it must be OK. And it happens so often, almost as much as people being born. The world daily death rate is 151,600 people, according to http://www.ecology.com. That’s per day!

I think the fear is the unknown. Not many people can tell us what it’s like to die. People die for a moment before being brought back to life, which is incredible, and that’s the closest we will get to being able to understand what happens. In Clemmie Telford’s podcast, Louise Winters and Anna Lyons talk openly and honestly about their jobs as an alternative funeral director and end-of-life doula respectively. Both deal with death and grief every day. Listening to their take on it all, and the way it should be discussed, was really refreshing. So much so that I had to write this blog post immediately in order to share with you, and signpost, some of the things they said. Anna Lyons’ post on Clemmie Telford’s blog, Mother Of All Lists, was mentioned in the podcast episode, so I went and had a look. It is an honest guide to death and all the things surrounding it. Here is the list for you all to read (and I feel it is important that you do): What Death Has Taught Me. I won’t spoil it for you, as it is really an amazing read, but I was surprised to hear, on the podcast and in the article, that you can have a funeral anywhere, you can be buried in your back garden and, most unexpectedly, you can remain at home after you die, not in a mortuary, as long as you’re kept cool and the cat isn’t allowed in the room (Apparently they begin to eat dead bodies after the heart stops – Ewww. Although, this won’t stop me from loving cats).

Listening to the Honestly podcast has made me think about mortality, grief and life’s fragility. These would normally be grave subjects to think about on a Wednesday morning, but today I am thinking about them in a different, new and refreshing light. It doesn’t have to be taboo or forbidden to discuss it, and I totally agree with Anna about talking openly and honestly about death with our children. I have thought about it many times, when the subject arises, but I realise that they’re not stupid and shouldn’t be shielded away from the subject of death. It will only increase a fear in them. My eldest is really obsessed with The Lion King at the moment, and he refers to the death of Mufasa as him ‘getting stuck’. So now, any time there is a perilous or sad part of a film, he asks if someone is going to get stuck. *LION KING SPOILER ALERT* We tell him that Mufasa died because Scar pushed him, and he blamed it on Simba. He understands now that Mufasa died. These things do happen, so why lie about them? I think having children has made me begin to feel differently about death – When I talk about it with them, I don’t want to scare them like it scares me. I want them to feel comfortable with the inevitability. It is inevitable and it doesn’t need to be scary. My boys will find their own way to deal with these things – the death of relatives and their own mortality – and we will be there to support them through the tough times and to try and explain things to them truthfully when they ask questions. As they say in the podcast, understanding what happens in death allows us to feel more comfortable with it. It helps us to imagine, as best we can, what it might be like and that gives us a better personal connection with our inevitable end.

I have to, finally, give a special mention to Louise Winters’ beautiful answer to Clemmie Telford’s question, ‘Death is…’

‘The full stop at the end of a life sentence’.

As ever, thanks for reading,

NSG xxx

Cover Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

What has NSG been up to this week?

Parenting

Hello followers! How are you all? I hope you’re having a good week, whether it is raining, windy, sunny, or all of the above.

It has been an interesting week in NSG Towers. Khaya turned a magnificent FOUR on Monday, and we took a rather brilliant trip to Hamley’s on Regent Street in order for him to choose his birthday present. We also promised Nathi an ‘unbirthday present’, which is a tradition in my family. Here are some of the highlights:

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We have also been busy seeing family, and making Baba Bear feel comfortable in his London home after being away for over a year.

Mama has been on a bit of a fundraising jolly, having raised over and above my goal for Ovacome through my birthday fundraiser. We now have an active family fundraiser for Comic Relief through JustGiving, which went live this evening. The boys took part in a cake sale at their nursery today, and we will all be tuning in to the Comic Relief live show on BBC1 tomorrow evening.

I was also very moved by the awful Ethiopian Airways plane crash this week. It was, quite frankly, way too close to home. Not only have we used that airline, and possibly that very aircraft, in the past, but my partner told me that he could have been on that flight if he’d decided to stay in Ethiopia a little longer for a work launch. He said that he would have flown any route to get him back to the UK that didn’t cost the earth, which very well may have included flying from Addis Ababa to Nairobi for a connecting flight. I can’t imagine what the families of those poor victims are going through right now. My thoughts are with them.

I have ordered more merchandise for my company, just for me, and have been working on a business plan to find out what I can do next. What kind of journey will this venture take me on? I never saw myself as someone who would need to know anything about business, but perhaps this is what I was meant to do after all.

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I am currently halfway through my amazing Start Writing Fiction course, which I signed up for through FutureLearn. It is free, and it is run by the Open University. I am really enjoying it, and am getting lots of interesting and useful guidance for my fiction writing. And, did I mention, IT’S FREE! I urge you to go to their site and see if there is a course for you. I bet there will be. Here you go: https://www.futurelearn.com/.

And now, we are gearing up for our friends at Two Gents’ production of The Importance of Being Earnest at Tara Arts Theatre in Earlsfield, SW18, which closes on Saturday night. If you’re local and fancy a night out, please book your tickets here. It’s a two-hander, both females, and should be a very interesting and entertaining night of theatre!

So, I hope everyone has a great weekend, and please donate anything you can to our Comic Relief fundraiser over on JustGiving. It all goes to the people who need it the most and, as much as I believe that this shouldn’t be how the world is in 2019, every little will help. Thank you, and goodnight.

NSG xxx

PS. I learned a little lesson in reblogging today, and how not to do it. I reposted a lovely post that I had enjoyed by another blogger on WordPress, but hadn’t made it clear enough that it wasn’t my own post… Needless to say, I had a concerned friend contact me by text about it, so immediately took it down again. Huge apologies to the blogger who wrote the original post – I am still learning!