Louie Talks Death With…A Counsellor: Part 2
Listening to and guiding others through the grieving process gives counsellors a unique insight into life and death, but does it have any influence on how a counsellor reflects on their own passing? In part two we discuss Violet's wishes for her own death and how she would like to be remembered.
Louie: How do you feel about your own death?
I alternate between accepting it and being really scared of it, as well as feeling slightly annoyed. I feel annoyed about it because it is completely out of my control and I don’t know when or how it will happen. It’s not even about me wanting to be in control, it’s just that it is such a huge thing that I have no part of. I also hope that I will be ready. I guess what I mean by that is, that I hope I will have done the things in my life I want to do or at least some of them and made the most of my life.
Louie: What is your worst fear about dying?
I think knowing that I am going to die.
Louie: Do you mean in general or as it is happening?
A bit of both, but maybe slightly more about the moment and being aware of the experience. However, I have heard lots of recollections from those who have witnessed people dying, many of whom have said that it can actually be quite a peaceful moment.
Louie: Would you, therefore, prefer your death to be a case of going to bed and not waking up?
Definitely, that would be the ideal scenario. Referring back to our friend that passed, we were told in great detail of what happened at the end of his life.
Louie: Were they in any way aware that they were ill and were going to die?
Yes, they did and the idea of being in that position blows my mind - knowing you are dying and saying those last goodbyes to people.
Another fear is not knowing what is going to happen when I die, and what is beyond life? Will there be nothing? Will I come back as something or someone else, and if so, will I be aware? The unknown is a black void to me, a dark chasm of nothingness.
Louie: Do you have any wishes for your own death i.e. how and when?
Ultimately, I just want to go in my sleep but in a way that seems slightly selfish. I definitely want it to be peaceful, pain free, dignified and clean. I would also really value the chance to say how I feel about family and to say goodbye, rather than just going without saying anything - even though that contradicts my fears of knowing that I am going to die.
Louie: Would you want to live forever?
My first instinct is to say no. I guess it depends in what form you would be living; would you get older or would you stay at a particular age forever? I just think I would get too tired, really tired of life and it would be exhausting. And then, when other people around you died you would be alone. It all sounds quite lonely.
Louie: What would you like to happen to your own remains when you are gone?
Whilst I love the idea of being buried, having a gravestone and the ceremony of it, I actually I don’t like the idea of being stuck in one place forever. Therefore, I think I would like to be cremated. And, I know sounds a bit romantic, but I like the idea of having my ashes scattered out to sea and being cast adrift.
Louie: Do you have anywhere in particular in mind?
I guess when I think of the sea, I think of maybe somewhere in Hastings or Bexhill.
Louie: Do you have any wishes or requests for your own memorial or funeral?
I feel that funerals are mostly for the people who are left behind and it’s important for them to be able to choose how they want to say goodbye to the deceased. But I do understand how someone might want particular things read and or a particular piece of music played, as it is in a way, their last word. However, I think people who organise their entire funeral are really taking something away from those who are grieving. So, whilst I think if someone has left specific instructions we should respect them; I also believe there needs to be an opportunity for the bereaved to have an input and to say what they want to say. It’s an important part of the grieving process, a final kind of goodbye, and I feel that the people left behind should have an input in that.
In respect of my own funeral, I might like to suggest a piece of music or something, but I wouldn’t want to dictate how it should be.
Louie: And finally, what piece of music or song would you like played at your funeral?
When I first heard this song, I thought I would like it played at my funeral so this is the one I have chosen. It is called Pyramid song and is by Radiohead.
For me, it describes going on a journey and being taken somewhere that is slightly magical. You are surrounded by people and your whole life, but you are going somewhere else. It’s a beautiful song, and in particular, I love the lyric “nothing to fear, nothing to doubt”.
Next time…Why we should speak ill of the dead
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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/
Pyramid Song by Radiohead