I don’t know about you, but it seems like the days are starting to find their own rhythm. Perhaps not quite a “new normal” – that will undoubtedly take much more time – but they’re taking on a pace and flow I’m beginning to recognize as more familiar than not.
With the reality of our mortality more present and on the surface, perhaps it’s time to reflect inward and begin talking about what we want for our own end of life.
In my last post I offered that in Katy Butler’s book The Art of Dying Well, she suggests starting with the ending. If we can imagine what we want our death to be like, we can begin working backwards in self-exploration to ensure that the life we’re living now – the things, the people, the relationships, the activities we are investing our time and energy in – will actually give us the greatest chance of getting there.
That’s the thing that trips most of us up, right? Contemplating the “when we go out” part? That’s why we need to start crafting the life we want now. In this unsteady time when issues of life and death are certainly more on the table than usual, and most of us have more time and space than usual, it is an opportune time to either begin these conversations, or continue them if we’ve already started.
Talking about death and dying now invites all of us to begin imagining end of life scenarios we have never experienced before. It allows us to entertain possibilities – both inspiring and scary – that just aren’t available to explore and learn from if we are reacting to the immediacy of a crisis rather than more thoughtfully responding from a place of preparation. The potential of this more thoughtful response to illness, decline, and death is made more accessible by having engaged with it beforehand.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say, we all know this is important. That being said, I’m wondering where you might be on the spectrum of willingness to have these hard conversations about death, and about life: Are you interested and unsure of where to start? Not particularly interested but know it needs to happen so you’re willing to give it a go? Terrified but considering dipping a toe in?
We’d love to hear from you about how this invitation into hard conversation feels, how your (your family’s) exploration is going, and maybe even what you’re having to overcome personally to be able to engage in these conversations. Whether you are doing this privately or with your friends and loved ones, we would enjoy hearing from you. On the main page of our website www.endofmindproject.org we have a new feature where you can record your story and let us know how it’s going.