Louie Talks Death With…Herself: Part 2
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Facing My Mortality...
In Part One of this blog, I explored my first encounters with death as well as my general thoughts and attitudes towards it. Whilst I found thinking about some of the subjects raised challenging, there was a certain feeling of being somewhat removed from the experience.
Therefore, in Part Two I aim to delve that bit deeper and ask… how do I feel about dying myself?
How do you feel about your own death?
In a word, terrified. The fact I will die one day I find almost incomprehensible and is something that has kept me awake at night.
I know there is nothing unusual in this - death frightens the majority of people. But thanks to OCD, it has at times, been a recurring theme of my thoughts. Whilst it is not as bad as it once was, when I go through a period of stress these thoughts do have a nasty habit of returning. They normally surface when I am about to fall asleep and my mind will suddenly exclaim “Oh my goodness, you are going to die one day”. The rational side of me knows it is just my brain playing tricks, but at the time it does genuinely feel like a sudden realisation of my own mortality.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the most unfortunate thing is that it is not a fear you can dismiss as unlikely to happen - it’s inevitable for us all. The irony is, however, that the more I face these fears and thoughts, the less power they have and less scared I am of dying.
What is your worst fear about dying?
In this respect, I have two fears, the first of which is about how it will happen.
Aside from hoping for a painless death, I not only fear being aware of dying but also fear not being aware. I appreciate on the surface those fears may seem contradictory, so to put it another way, whilst the thought of dying unaware in one’s sleep may be comforting, I can’t help but think I would miss out on the last major experience of my life. After all, who could forget the famous final words of Steve Jobs “Oh wow, oh wow, Oh wow”. Cynics may claim these words were simply the result of some kind of delusion in his last moments, but how can we ever truly know until we experience death ourselves?
The second fear is of it happening before my time. I know there rarely comes a point in anyone’s life when they think, ‘yes, I have done all I wanted to’ but there are certain things I want to achieve before I die.
In my personal life, I feel I have achieved everything I could ever have wanted. I have a dear and supportive husband with whom I have a deep connection, which is something I appreciate many people spend their lives searching for. Therefore, my other aspirations tend to be regarding what I want to achieve in my writing career, namely to have written and published my series of novels. The thought of dying before these stories have been told genuinely gives me anxiety, which in some ways is a great motivator to knuckle down and get on with it!
Do you have any wishes for your own death i.e. how, when?
I want to live to one hundred, at least, if not longer. The cliché of life being short is so painfully true. Childhood seems to last for an eternity but as you get older time seems to speed up and the years appear to fly by.
I don’t think I will ever feel like I have truly had long enough, so if I can reach one hundred, I will at least feel like I had a good go.
How? Probably the usual - quick and painless as no one wishes for a long, lingering death. In some ways, I think it would be good to know when but knowing the way my mind works I am not sure I could really enjoy the time I had left if I knew exactly how long it was.
Would you want to live forever?
Yes, with all the usual caveats one thinks of i.e. being in good health and able. With all those things guaranteed I can never understand why some people still say they would not want to live forever.
Whilst I appreciate the argument that there would come a time when everyone you know and love has died, I would argue that there are no guarantees of company in life as it is. And whilst it would be sad to lose everyone around you, you could also very well find yourself in that situation in this life too.
What do you want to happen to your own remains when you are gone?
I think I want to be cremated but I am not one hundred percent sure. After watching a documentary about the process of cremation, I found the reality of it rather brutal. I do, however, like the idea of being scattered somewhere and have two places in mind. Whilst my ashes could be split and scatted in both, part of me would also like the idea of being kept together in one place.
Burial, on the other hand, has a certain amount of charm but also horror. There is part of me that likes the idea of having a grave but I appreciate you can’t be buried anywhere you fancy. Part of the appeal is the thought of having some rather ornate Victorian-style tomb. This would not be for narcissistic reasons but more to do with a love of the ornate stonework and angel statues I often see on my church crawling explorations.
I have the same mixed feelings about my funeral. Whilst I personally find them rather excruciating and torturous to attend, I like the idea of the pomp and ceremony of my own (it’s that Victorian influence again!). As I shall only be attending as the deceased, I am, however, not wholly opposed to letting those left behind do what they want to do with me.
What would you like to be remembered for?
On a personal level I would like to be remembered for never giving up. Call me stubborn, but when I get an idea in my head, I tend to be very focused and completely go for it. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. But if it is something I really believe in, I will pick myself up and start all over again.
In respect of my work, I want to be remembered for making a difference, even if it is small and even if it is just for one person. There have been so many songs, books and movies that have touched and inspired me over the years and it would be wonderful to think my writing might resonate with someone, somewhere in that way.
And finally, what piece of music or song would you like played at your funeral?
Although I said I would be happy to leave it up to those left behind to arrange things, I do quite like the idea of the orchestral version of Pulp’s This is Hardcore played. The piece sounds perfectly appropriate for such an occasion (as the lyrics are omitted on this version) but knowing the song as I do, it would amuse me greatly to think of it being played at my funeral.
Following in the same tongue-in-cheek vein, I would also choose Spice Girls, Goodbye, but if I am taking things slightly more seriously, it would be John Lennon’s, Love.
Next time…. Why we are all grieving something
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Also, if you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can receive advice and support from Cruse Bereavement Care. Cruse is a wonderful nationwide charity who offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies. www.cruse.org.uk/
Pulp This is Hardcore, Orchestral version
Spice Girls, Goodbye
John Lennon, Love