It’s my first time in Devon and there are bluebells and primroses and beech trees creating gently swaying cathedral skies…. It’s the perfect environment to launch Dying Matters week, which we did with Seven Songs for a Long Life in Barnstaple. The aim was to find a way to get past our reluctance to talk about our death, and our absolute horror of talking about the death of those we love.
Why do it at all?
Because we deserve the best possible death. Because our families and friends deserve to be left with the best memories. Because medical and scientific proficiency at end of life has raced ahead in the last twenty years to become something that we just have not yet caught up with. There are new choices now available – to stay alive longer, but perhaps unable to eat or speak or move, and is that what we want? It may be exactly what we want, and it may not be. We can only make those choices if we have thought about it in advance.
About thirty of us took the opportunity to think about what counts as a good day for us, what it is about our lives we would like to pass on, and how a disease diagnosis might change our values, or not. We were inspired by a mother and daughter who had had so many conversations that they now could make jokes and knew exactly what each other wanted. “Profound and beautiful”, “Life affirming and immensely moving”, wrote the audience afterwards, leaving with DVDs and determination to have those conversations at home.
Thank you Devon!
(Pictured above - The mother and daughter who can now make jokes together.)