Aasof: “You know how to whistle don’t you?”
This week on Facebook: My post last Sunday brought home the fact that I belong to the Pinocchio generation, that of the Walt Disney era but including Sabu and long before Disney’s Jungle Book. I now realised why my mum took me to the pictures so much during WWII, but that’s an anecdote for another time. Lauren Bacall belonged to my mum’s generation and the memories of the films she took me to see live on my mind. Excerpts from the films may be enhanced by references in the social media, but I now belong to a generation whose memories increasingly have little in common with my children and nothing in common with my grandchildren.
Why coming to see death’s naturalness should have caused belief in an afterlife to melt away, I am unsure, but it did. Diana Athill¹
Born in May 1939, on becoming an octogenarian I thought it an appropriate time on Facebook to at least mention the inevitability my demise. I know that some of you have already passed the octogenarian milestone — as had my mother-in-law, whom I told a story about in 2016 (encounter with the dying). I trust that demise never become millstone, like a dead albatross hung around the neck².
The following video by Peter Saul talking about dying was really enlightening and had a profoundly serious effect on my approach to the subject, increasingly so in my attitude towards others. Among the many articles that I found ‘Talking about death and dying’³ seems an appropriate adjunct to Peter Saul’s talk.
In the event that you became too sick to speak for yourself!
Who would you like to speak for you?
1. “Memento more.” It’s time we reinvented death: (2012) As if we needed any reminder. While few of us know exactly when death will come, we all know that eventually it will. It’s usual to talk about death overshadowing life, and the passing of loved ones certainly casts a pall over the lives of those who remain behind. But contemplating our own deaths is one of the most powerful forces in our lives for both good and ill driving us to nurture relationships, become entrenched in our beliefs, and construct Ozymandian follies.
2. What Good Is Thinking About Death? (2015) But we’re not always actively thinking about it. When people are reminded of death, they employ a variety of strategies to cope—not all of which are as well-adjusted as Stoic gratitude. That many kinds of human behaviour stem from a fear of death is the basis of one of the most prominent theories in modern social psychology—terror-management theory.
3. What It’s Like to Learn You’re Going to Die: (2017) The shock of confronting your own mortality need not happen at that instant, Coyle notes. Maybe you look at yourself in the mirror and suddenly realize how skinny you are, or notice your clothes no longer fit well. “It’s not necessarily verbal; it’s not necessarily what other people are telling you,” Coyle says. “Your soul may be telling you, or other people’s eyes may be telling you.”
4. How to Recognise When Your Loved One Is Dying: (2018) Death is a personal journey which each individual approaches in their own unique way. Nothing is concrete, and nothing is set in stone. There are many paths one can take on this journey but all lead to the same destination. What happens in the journey of dying, beginning one to three months prior to death, during the last two weeks before death, and during the last few days of life? In this continuum, how can you know when your loved one is dying?
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular article (1-5).
- Links reference a source and where necessary, those words that include a link in italics are intended to indicate its context.
- A long read url* is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹It’s silly to be frightened of being dead (url*): Death is the inevitable end of an individual object’s existence – I don’t say “end of life” because it is a part of life. Everything begins, develops – if animal or vegetable, breeds – then fades away: everything, not just humans, animals, plants, but things which seem to us eternal, such as rocks. Mountains wear down from jagged peaks to flatness. Even planets decay. That natural process is death. Killing is the obscene intervention of violence, the violation which prevents a human being or any other animal from reaching death as it should be reached. Killing certainly did affect the minds of those exposed to the first world war. It shocked most of them into silence: many of the men who survived fighting in it never spoke of it, and I think it had the same effect on most of those the men returned to. It was too dreadful. They shut down on it.
²An introduction to death, dying and grief (url/OU Free Course): Explore interesting and challenging ideas around death, dying and grief. This free course, An introduction to death, dying and grief, invites you to think more deeply about death and dying and encourages you to think about it in different ways. This course will introduce you to different perspectives on death; ethical issues related to dying and end-of-life care; as well as expressions of grief. Please note that this course includes video about people talking personally about their experiences in relation to death and dying. If you have been affected by the issues in these videos, there are resources included in the course for further information and support.
³Talking about death and dying (url): It’s not always easy to know how to talk about dying. Awkwardness, embarrassment and fear means we tend to shy away from connecting with those who are dying or those who are grieving. But when we don’t talk about what matters it can increase feelings of isolation, loneliness and distress.
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