Monday, 29 November 2010

Death. Is it Better to be Prepared or Not?

Yes that's a bit of a serious question there, so no, there's no jokey spin this evening. 

Now, I am asking this after a discussion with Elder this evening, sparked by a few things, actually.

Firstly, Elder and I have a friend, we've known him quite a while. He is 70.

Elder popped round there this afternoon, see how he is. And he told Elder he has been told he has cancer. He is terminally ill. He is "OK" with it- in his view he has had a good life, and he's getting on a bit, and its his time. He has about 6 months left, so he has time to sort his affairs, prepare, if you will.

So, that said, Elder and I are very sad. He is a lovely bloke, it seems the wrong thing to say but he's not your average pipe and slippers Grandad, stereotypical 70 year old, he's full of life, fun loving. 

Then, we watched the programme about Damilola Taylor on the BBC this evening- we both remember it well, Elder lived not far from Peckham growing up and had a friend who lived on the same estate as Damilola died in.

He was 10. And until that moment he was a typical school boy, walking home. He had no time to prepare, he had no warning, nor did his friends or family.

We had a friend who was murdered. It was the day before my birthday, several years ago. He was killed by a mutual friend, they had a row, whilst drinking, and one killed the other. None of us saw that coming, we at the time were a group of mates who liked to live in the moment, dizzying at times with fun. We were all different ages (we've never seen age as a barrier to friendship, more views on music!). 

But we had no time to prepare, just to adjust.

Sometimes, I wonder that when I know its my time, do I want time to prepare? Do people need it to be dragged out, and people- family and friends to have time to get used to the idea? 

I'm a wuss, I don't think I'd do well at being ill, I wouldn't be shrugging my shoulders like our friend is, I think I shall be thoroughly miffed no matter if I'm 100 years old! I also don't "do" pain. If I stand on a piece of toy or a conker, I think my foot will be broken, even if its a part with no bones. 

In the same breath though, I know how hard it is to not know. For at one point a mate to be giving you a massive box of sweets in case they don't see you on your birthday, and then never seeing them again. To hold onto a dress for years, purely because they loved the colour of it. To be saying a permanent goodbye, before you've had a chance to get used to them not being there. To have their number on your mobile, and in your address book, and not feel right removing it, or throwing away the address book when its useless.

Its like being hit in the face, actually when you don't see it coming. 

But is that better? 

Death, whichever way it comes, is never easy. Its a taboo subject, we don't like to talk about it, we don't like to think about it. But its the most inevitable thing that happens in all our lives. 

I leave it open to you. Be prepared or not at all?


  1. yes its better to know. My mother knew she was terminal and didn't tell us... she went missing for two weeks... found her at a random hospital and nurses said she had 24hrs if she was lucky... its better to know, say your goodbyes and sit with the people you love.

    my hubby's best friend was murdered at a poker game on his birthday... over a girl and done by some 16 yr old boys the police couldn't arrest as there was no physical evidence even though they knew it was them.

    death sucks no matter what in the end.

  2. I am truly sorry about your friends illness, Sending positive thoughts and prayers to you.

    Personally I don't think I would like to know as I wouldn't want the opportunity to torture myself with what ifs, if you know what I mean.

    However we were given a few days notice of my grandfather's impending passing and we were able to hold his hand and say our goodbyes and no matter how sadly and heart wrenching I wouldn't give that time back for anyone or anything.

    But I do agree that death is far too taboo and should be spoken about more freely. If you take the mystery away from death then it becomes less scary. I have always tried to be honest and open about death with my children during the passing of our pets and the loss of my grandfather.


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