A master of this subject [thinking about dying] —a self-described dealer in the “death trade” for over 20 years is Canada’s own Stephen Jenkinson. He has written a number of books – the last one called Come of Age and an earlier one entitled Die Wise.
He has a website called orphanwisdom.com and he is currently on tour through North America doing a presentation called “Nights of Grief and Mystery” with a musician named Greg Hoskins.
We recently attended this in Calgary—me and 5 family and friends who were not really looking forward to an uninterrupted 2.5 hours where entry was not allowed after the doors closed, with no intermission . About all I can say is that no one moved for the fastest 2.5 hours in my life and none was “unmoved’” by the content. My husband, who has a reputation for being able to sleep through ANYTHING shortly after it begins and wakes up as the clapping starts, was awake for the entire thing! He even said, “that was really good”!
I’d certainly encourage you to look at him as a resource. He has an NFB film about him and his work called Griefwalker which you can find on YouTube. He also teaches on occasion at Hollyhock Retreat Center on Cortes Island and teaches at his farm in Ontario.
As it happened, Stephen Jenkinson had not yet crossed my path—and I could hardly ignore such a compelling recommendation. Having listened to him on video, today I’m sharing an excellent interview that gives you a sense of what he’s about. Continue reading →
*** Time for this post? Reading…3 minutes. Listening…10 minutes. Considering…at your leisure.
The death phobia that pervades our consumer culture does not serve us well…
We get to indulge in death phobia because commercial interests are right there, ready to step in and do the difficult things for us. In this way, we avoid a lot of discomfort.
But we pay a price for our comfort…and it’s not just in money. We become death illiterate, with no language for what death asks of us and no emotional capacity to recognize that death is asking something of us.
*** Time for this post? Reading…10 minutes. Viewing…17 minutes. Considering…as you wish.
Death. Dying. Have you noticed that most people dance around the subject of death when they’re in a situation that puts it in their face—whether it’s their dying or someone else’s.
Case in point—the funeral director I met with a few months ago. I was making my Plan B arrangements in case my body donation doesn’t go through. (This could happen if its condition is unsuitable at the time I die.)
Obviously, I wasn’t prepaying for a funeral since I don’t know whether or not I’ll need their services. But he was willing to meet with me, on that understanding, to fill out the paperwork. There are some tricky questions on the forms that must be submitted when registering a death, and I wanted to make sure the correct answers are on file.
Within minutes, it was obvious that the funeral director was selecting his words carefully in an effort to avoid causing me discomfort. Fair enough, in that we had just met and he was trying to assess where I was coming from.
I helped him out by saying something very direct about my death that let him know he could speak freely. The conversation was much more satisfying after that.
***Time for this post? Reading… 1 minute. Viewing…17 minutes. Thinking about it…as long as it takes.
My last few posts have been about several major documents that we should put in place well before we’re at the end of life. But dealing with mortality includes more than signing documents. Important as paperwork is, the human aspect of death is equally significant.
***Time for this post? Reading…10 minutes. Listening…2 minutes. Implementing…one bit at a time.
I’ve recently written about Wills, Power of Attorney, and Personal Directives. All are essential because they cover differing aspects of managing our affairs before and after death.
These documents are not necessarily quick and easy to make. It would be understandable if you’re feeling that it’s an onerous task to put things in order for your eventual demise!
Sorry! There are three more documents to consider—your Last Wishes Letter, Paper Trail, and a Supported Decision-Making Authorization. These aren’t legally required, but will ease things for you and your family in a variety of ways.
This post gives you the essential information you need to make each of them happen. They don’t all need to be done at once, but after reading this you will have in the back of your mind what is required to get each of them completed when you are ready to do it.
*** Time for this post? Reading… 12 minutes. Viewing…13 minutes well spent. Doing the work…take the time while you have it.
A Personal Directive (Advance Directive, Health Care Directive, Living Will) is an important piece of your paperwork. It’s the legal document in which you state your wishes for your personal care and medical treatment…or non-treatment. It only comes into effect if you are found to lack capacity to make personal decisions for yourself.
You need a Personal Directive as well as your Power of Attorney. Although both of them come into effect when you’ve lost your mental capacity to decide for yourself, the Power of Attorney can only address your financial matters. So a Personal Directive is necessary to give authority to someone you trust to make your personal decisions.
It’s about directing how you want your life to conclude…