I was asked recently if I ‘enjoy talking about death’. 😊 Well, I wouldn’t say I ‘enjoy’ it, but I am very comfortable and do speak about it. Perhaps I should explain…
The question came off the back of me officially getting the opportunity to work with an organisation that specialises in death literacy and helps people prepare for end-of-life ie. dying, death and grief. They also encourage those difficult, sometimes taboo conversations, and work towards getting the topic of the ‘D’ word to be as easy and comfortable to discuss as any other topic.
It’s interesting how things happen at exactly the right time. I first heard about the Groundswell Project about 2 years ago and wrote the name down on a notepad beside my bed. I didn’t really give it much more thought until recently. I was in the final stages of my new website being completed and was figuring out who my preferred clients might be moving forward.
Who could I bring benefit to, by adding value to their audience through my speaking or writing?
Who could I make a difference to, by sharing my story and skillset?
‘Why not’, I thought, as I dialled their number. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to at least get in touch and have a conversation.
This week the Groundswell Project updated their meet the team page, and I was officially included as one of their facilitators and presenters.
So, why don’t we talk about dying, death or grief?
For the most part, we don’t like to discuss it with people that are dying, because we don’t want to bring them down or make them feel bad.
The dying don’t want to talk about it to the living, because they don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable.
We don’t like talking in general about the dead, because it might make the person who is left behind feel worse.
And, we especially don’t want to talk to our kids or young adults about dying or death even if they have experienced a loss because… oh don’t even get me started on this soap box…
I have seen first-hand what happens to young people from as early as 3 years old, when we don’t have healthy, open and honest conversations about death. I have witnessed young people completely lose themselves in a fog of grief and confusion and I have seen how they turn to anything and everything in an attempt to numb their feelings and stop them from thinking.
I have heard the despair in young people’s voices as they sob about how they miss their person. And I have listened with tears in my own eyes as I am reminded how we have once again delivered our next generation a massive disservice.
So, let me attempt to set a few things straight.
The dying already know they are dying. If you talk to them in a way that is positive and empowering eg. “Let’s make sure you are living your end of life in exactly the way you want to; and let me help you leave a legacy of values as well as valuables…”, it can at the least bring an element of comfort and control to that person.
It is not possible to make a person feel worse by saying the name and talking about their passed loved one(s) in a positive way. Not talking about the dead and being ‘weird’ or awkward, or worse, avoiding them (the person left behind) altogether, will likely frustrate or irritate them.
By not speaking with our kids, and specifically mid to late teens and early adults about death, we set them up to have their first devastating experience completely unprepared and ill-equipped. I am not suggesting you can ever really prepare someone for how they will feel when they lose a person they love, even if it is expected, as we all do it differently. BUT, I do believe we have a responsibility to be sensible and sensitive about this and encourage conversation by giving them an insight into:
- How we might die,
- What we might experience mentally and emotionally when we lose someone and
- Coping strategies and resources to keep in mind when this happens.
I would go as far as to say that close to the same percentage of people will also experience the grief of losing someone they love during their lifetime. No amount of avoiding this fact will make it any different or any easier.
So, why am I so comfortable and why do I talk about this topic?
My main reason is to continue my son Ben’s legacy of empowering people.
I know personally what it is like to experience a significant and devastating loss and I share my story to highlight the importance of facing adversity to build resilience. I want to remind people they are stronger than they think, regardless of the challenge(s) they are facing.
My second reason is that I am passionate about encouraging and supporting our younger generation so they can become amazing adults. I want to see them go on to build strong, resilient, healthy, happy, healed, and whole loving communities of their own in the future 😊
Dalya xx 💙
Ps. In the defence of the Ostrich, they lay their eggs in holes in the ground. To make sure the eggs are evenly heated, they stick their heads into the nest to rotate the eggs.
This only makes them look like they are trying to hide – hence the myth.