Well this is not my normal eNews. My beautiful father passed away last Wednesday so I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Ballarat with my sisters and step mum. As I said last week he was tired, his batteries had gone flat and he was ready to go. He went very peacefully and we’re all OK although we will miss him greatly.
They say that at the point of death that your life flashes before your eyes. Well for me my Dad’s life has passed before my eyes. It’s been a little slower and more intentional but I’ve spent the week reflecting on my dad’s life, my relationship with him and the legacy he left the world. We’ve looked at hundreds of photos and reminisced. I’ve actually just finished writing what I’ll say at his funeral today so I’m feeling a little raw.
This week, other than being with family, I’ve felt the need to withdraw from the world and be gentle with myself. I’ve noticed how death is very much like birth. I remember when my first baby was born I went into a bubble. It was such a hugely transformative event. When I was discharged I recall standing on the steps of the Queen Victoria hospital looking at the traffic and the people thinking how can the world be going on as normal? Everyone was going about their business, shopping and working and doing normal things. Didn’t they know I’d just become a mother and the world was not the same?
It was similar when I left the hospital last Wednesday. My world would never be the same again but everyone else was continuing to live their lives as if nothing had changed. It felt a little surreal.
I must say that I’ve had enormous support and lots of lovely phone calls, text messages and Facebook posts and I’ve definitely felt the love. Thank you to everyone for the kind words.
Just as with birth it takes time to adjust. Time to find your new place in the family. Time to learn how to do things a little differently. Time to accept that life has changed. I know that’s all normal and it’s OK.
Last week I talked about the benefits of accepting that we are all going to die and making peace with that. In fact from the moment we’re conceived we’re destined to die. Today I wanted to share with you how good it was that my father had thought about his death and had planned his funeral.
After reading last week’s eNews my daughter, Leah, sent me a link to a Podcast about a town in America where everyone was encouraged to make an “End of Life Plan.” The Medical Ethicist at the local hospital realised that it was incredibly hard to families to know what a loved one might want at the end of their life. It was traumatic for everyone involved
Loved ones were asked to make decisions about life support and resuscitation, who they might want to be present, did they want to donate organs, did they want to be buried or cremated, what sort of funeral did they want, do they have religious, spiritual of philosophical beliefs they would like honoured, how would they like to be remembered, what music would they like played? The list goes on and on.
Talking about these things in advance might seem strange and macabre but in this particular town the population are very comfortable with the conversation and 96% of those who die there have made clear decisions about what they want and the hospital and everyone in their family knows their choices. The interesting offshoot is that this town has the lowest healthcare spending of the entire US. And my guess is that when someone dies their loved ones have already done part of their grieving and find the death easier to accept.
On another note, I’m really pleased that a number of years ago I interviewed my dad about his life and we filmed it. We chatted for over an hour and he shared his life story, his ups and downs, the details of his school years, his career, how he met my mother and how he felt about various things. I also did a voice recording on his 87th birthday last year asking questions about his insights and the wisdom he would like to share with his great grandchildren. We explored his views on money, life and happiness.
I asked him what he was most proud of, what he regretted in life and how he would like to be remembered. You’ve no idea how wonderful it is to have those recordings now and how much easier it made talking to the Civil Celebrant who is conducting his funeral. It also made it much easier it was write my speech.
So, your mission this week, should you choose to accept it, is to start to write your end of life plan. If you find it hard thinking about death my heartfelt advice, with the utmost respect, is “get over it.” It’s inevitable. You are going to die and so are all your friends and family, hopefully later rather than sooner but it will happen.
Just as we encourage mums-to-be to have a birth plan, to do their research and to think through all their options I’ve come to understand that it’s equally important to have thought through your exit strategy. Ideally mine is death by chocolate when I’m 120 but I do have a few requests if things unfold differently. Since the Law of Attraction applies throughout life it also applies to death. Why not set your intention to have a a long, happy healthy life and a peaceful passing?
This week at Kindred Spirits we’ll be showing the short film I mentioned last week about what constitutes a successful life, we’ll be talking about making peace with death and exploring the sorts of things we would like our loved ones to know about us. It’s at 10.30am on Thursday. I hope you can join me.
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Have a great week,
Health and Happiness Guru