How a conversation on death can change your life

My bon voyage file

I didn’t talk about death a whole lot before Charles died. He did, though. And I wish I had asked why since obsession on the subject is an indication that someone struggles with thoughts of suicide.

We live in a death-averse, death-phobic culture. We can’t even say the word death, substituting instead, phrases like “passed away” or “kick the bucket” to sugarcoat life’s ending.

So how do you want your end celebrated? Where do you want to be buried? How will it be paid for? Do you want your organs donated (the closest thing we have to immortality)?

Part of you is thinking, “That’s no my problem. I’ll be dead!”

But what if things get complicated?

Do you want family members agonizing over what your wishes might be as you lie catatonic with a feeding tube? Do you want siblings arguing because one can’t pull the plug on life support and the other feels guilty for saying they should? Do you want your tear your family apart because one wants to cremate you and the other wants to cradle your embalmed self in satin and mahogany? Do you want your life savings to go to pay court fees because you couldn’t be bothered with making a will? Do you want your children to end up with the evil stepsister who rules her household like a tyrant should both parents die?

Is that the legacy you want to leave?

Understanding and appreciating my own mortality since Charles’ death has stripped away the fear of the topic and inspired me to waltz outside my comfort zone, relish new adventures, take more risks, make goals I will actually achieve. It’s made me make those practical end-of-life decisions and let my spouse know. And vice versa.

To me, it’s just a practical step to complete like making sure my taxes get paid. While I will grieve the rest of my life for my child who died, I have tried to carry forward what he stood for and that’s living my life with passion.

The grief experience has freed me from living a standard-issue life and inspired me to strive for more. It’s helped me define what I want out of the time I have and appreciate that putting things off could mean never.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “How a conversation on death can change your life”

  1. Such an important point to make. Some people want to deny that there will be an end to this life and think avoiding the conversation will somehow make it go away. We who have lost a child know our day too will come and plan for it fearlessly. Thanks for continuing the uncomfortable but necessary dialogue.

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