The two year anniversaries for both Mum and Grandad Paddy have passed in the last few weeks, so it’s not surprising that I’ve been reading about death this month. Not in a morbid kind of way, but in a realistic and occasionally humorous kind of way.
With the End in Mind | Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix: I recently read an interview with Dr Mannix and was immediately struck with how at ease she felt with discussing death. It is, after all, something that will happen to all of us.
“The stories read like fiction, from a writer well attuned to her craft. The life in each shines through and the characters practically leap off the page. It is incredibly moving, of course, but what it isn’t is miserable. Yes this is a book about death, but it is also a book about joy. There aren’t all that many books that change the way you see the world. This book really might. It will make you want to do a better job of loving and living. It will make you want to be kinder. And it will make you want to cherish every precious moment of your precious life.” ~ Sunday Times
By the time I got to the end of the book, I’d realised a few things. Both of my parents had similar deaths (and not because they were suffering with the same horrible disease) and both had the correct kind of death. By that, I mean their deaths followed the prescribed pattern described so eloquently by Dr Mannix. By a strange quirk of fate, while reading this, a close friend asked me for advice as she was preparing herself to sit with a family member who was dying. Not only could I offer up my own experience, I was also able to recognise where on the path to death her loved one was.
The Brainy One and I both have wills. We have legal guardians in place for The Boy Child, should they ever be needed. I intend now to have a more in-depth discussion with The Brainy One about our wishes pertaining to end of life care. Discussing death doesn’t bring it closer.
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson: I loved this wee book! It’s an easy read and I got through it in an evening. Similar to Marie Kondo, Ms Magnusson talks a lot of sense. She wrote that, “there’s no sense in keeping things that will shock or upset your family after you are gone,” which immediately made me think of a few old love letters and photos I have tucked away and that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Ahem. I’ll be following up on her advice to have a ‘Throw Away Box‘ – a box for small things that are valuable to me and me alone. When the time comes, whoever sorts through my belongings will come upon the box and will know exactly what to do with it. Whether they proceed to lift the lid and peruse the contents will be up to them.
I helped Mum clear away Dad’s possessions and I helped my aunt and uncle to clear away Mum’s. It’s not an easy job, so why not make it easier for those who will do it?