Life is full of endings – the end of a day, end of a book, end of a period of study, end of a relationship, and the end of life.
When I reflect on retirement, I also consider the related areas of ageing and dying. Spending time in the natural world we notice this clearly as plants grow and die and go back to the earth. In a modern world we are less likely to see death.
Death is part of the natural cycle of life and my belief is that when we live well, we can die well and let go.
You may like to take a moment and to quieten yourself, to listen to your breathing and to notice how you are feeling about death, right now. It can help to really notice and feel this.
What does a good death mean to you?
For some it is being at peace, having a good life and for their death to be quick, ideally in their sleep.
Why are we frightened by death?
Is it not knowing? Is it being scared – do we worry that we will we be in pain?
Some people fear dying alone – so how can we plan to have the people we want with us?
We can worry for the people who are left behind – will they be ok without us? So how can we both provide for the future and be a guide to them now?
With relationships I believe we should make our peace – to forgive those who have hurt us and seeking resolution when perhaps we have been estranged. Reaching out, and if it Is not resolved accepting that we have done our best.
Sometimes we wonder if there is more that we could do in our life. And that’s a useful topic for us to think about now.
If we only had 3 or 6 months left to live, would we be doing what we are doing now? Or something else?
If we should be doing something else, what should we be focusing our energy on?
When working with people on life after full time work, we explore what is important to the person. Will it be to continue in paid work, to continue working for another year, another year, another year. Or time to do something else.
Doing something meaningful does not have to be around paid work. When we think about what is truly important in life it is often around relationships and being able to spend time with the people that we love. It may be to spend time doing things that are more spiritual, and/ or something that really nurtures you.
- What can you do to try and sort and resolve any unfinished business that you have, that you could either forgive or resolve?
- If this was your last six months on Earth, would you be doing what you’re doing now? And if not, what would you be doing?
- What is it that you could do to make a difference and have the life that you want now?
- Do you have any wishes for when you die? What needs to be done now?
- Alongside your will is there anything else you need to organise for after you have died? Do you need to have meaningful conversations with others such as your children?
I know for some this topic can be seen as depressing, but I don’t think this is something we should avoid. I plan to include this within my next book and the accompanying video is helping me to work out what I want to say.
And perhaps we should celebrate lives before we die
My mum will be 90 next year and this could be a celebration of her life – not just a party, but something more meaningful, recognising her struggles and achievements. She’s cared for my dad and two partners through the end of their lives.
We can, as a family, listen to my mums story, listening to what she wants to tell us about her life. Over the coming months I plan to talk through her life – the highs and lows, so that it is not too onerous a task for her on the day. And she can tell us about how she wants to be remembered. This keeps the history alive.