Friday, May 30, 2008

30th May 2008
Someone wrote to me yesterday saying how moved they'd been by one of these entries.. and it came as a shock to me to realise that some people actually read this diary.
It seems very unlikely, somehow.
So then i felt guilty about not having written anything for a while..
Dear Diary, these entries so often read, I'm sorry I've neglected you.
Well it's not because nothing has happened, but because too much has happened. I can't keep up with it all...
The thing that's on my mind is a workshop I went to on 17th May.
About preparing for Death.
I didn't tell many people I was going.
I certainly didn't tell my daughters. I didn't want to frighten them.
The fact that i was reluctant to talk about it at the time, and reluctant to talk about it since, is very much why it was so important to go.
Because we don't want to. Which actually makes no sense at all.
It seemed so important when my partner was dying to try to do all I could, not to stop her dying, because I couldn't do that, but try to make sure she died in the best way possible.
Or perhaps the least worst...
Died at least knowing that we loved her.
And it mattered desperately for us, too, that at the end we felt we had really done all we could for her.
Which we had.
But one thing about living with someone who was dying was that it taught me that I am going to die too. I really am.
That crazy sense of invulnerability I used to have has gone for ever.
The night before I had the heart surgery I had to try to come to grips with the fact that when they put me to sleep the next morning I might not wake up again.
The NHS recognises this, and the fact people are afraid in such a situation.
So when the night nurse came round with my pills he gave me a sleeping pill and two miniatures of whisky.
Which was a nice gesture in a way, but shows up something really wrong about our culture.
That we apparently cannot afford to give proper comfort in these moments of emotional crisis; we can only hand out the means to anesthetise. To blunt the bad feeling in the vain hope it might go away.
Which it won't.
That morning and afternoon in the death workshop, the tiny group of us who had turned up began, oh so tentatively, to scratch at the surface of the thing.
we started to think about making a living will to make sure we're treated humanely and according to our wishes in our final illness.
To think about how to arrange for a good funeral instead of one of these awful mass produced crematorium jobs.
To try to understand a little bit more clearly what is involved in dying. The kind of visions people often see that announce their death.
To try to understand and value our own dear selves in the face of all this.
We couldn't get very far: it's the work of the rest of my lifetime.
But it makes so much sense to attempt it.
We've come to understand that it's important how we are brought into this world: and it's as important how we leave it.
And it's quite logical that many of the women involved in the natural birth movement I know are involved in the natural death movement too:


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