I used to think this way. For much of my life, I was frightened of talking about death. This was, I have to admit, sometimes rather awkward since part of my professional life as a first responder was to deal with death in many different circumstances. It was also sometimes my job to break such sad news to people who did not yet know that they had become a widow or widowers, or orphans, or no longer a brother or sister. Talking about death, however – while never exactly comfortable – was something that I was required to do. So, I did it, as respectfully, as completely and as compassionately as I could.
My own death, however – that was out of bounds. Taboo. Not going there. I had been convinced from a very early age that death was a whim of God; something that might overtake us any day. So it might, but I thought that I would be tempting fate to discuss it or – good grief, imagine this; face the inevitable.
It took me a long time to think about this properly. And when I did, I didn’t die. I wasn’t struck down by a malevolent deity throwing lightning bolts, buses did not suddenly begin trying to run me over, aeroplanes did not drop out of the sky. In fact, nothing unpleasant happened at all. This may have something to do with the fact that my thinking on this subject took place at around the time when I left religion behind. At that point, I left a great many other untruths behind along with my fear of death. I left behind all the things that I had been told by people who had no way of knowing if they were telling me the truth.
Which brings me to my up-to-date thought about talking about death: of course it won’t kill you. Talking honestly and rationally about death can only be positive. Is it a happy subject? Not to me, but death is not something that I face with the terror of hell (which used to be the case), for example. Talking about it enables me to plan for the times leading up to it. It prevents me from ignoring the inevitability of it – which, let’s face it (pardon that pun) isn’t rational. It allows me to think about the time after I have gone; what it might mean for my children and friends. It allows me to plan my legacy, whatever that may be. I still need to remind myself sometimes; talking about death fearlessly enables me and allows me to do things which need to be done while I am still alive. I call that a positive effect