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The number of visits to this blog has suddenly dropped from the usual 150+ to fewer than 60 per day. Who knows why — the blog business is unpredictable. My hunch is that the topic of the last few posts (death) does not lend itself to spontaneous clicking. “Use ‘sex’ in the subject line,” another blogger suggested. 

As I think about my own dying (and, by extension, yours), my wish is to post things that may serve the needs of many readers. By telling my stories I invite you to reflect on yours: your experiences with death, with dying, with terminal illness and accidents, with moments when death visited you and your loved ones. I hope that you’ll talk about what you read here and what my posts trigger in you. Please expand the conversation beyond friends and loved-ones — speak to your doctor and priest and others in your social circle. Browse the library and scan the world-wide web. Write things down so that loved-ones know of your end-of-life care wishes.

Who shall make decisions when you’re no longer able to speak for yourself? Seeing you ill and helpless is agonizing enough for them, not being clear on how to advocate for you brings additional suffering to those at your bedside. Beyond the end of life (your death), what are your wishes regarding your body, its immediate care, subsequent donation of organs, burial, interment or casting of ashes? Who would you like to look after the many decisions, small and large, after you’re gone?

In the coming days I’ll address these points while I too talk with friends, my lawyer, executor, brothers, medical representative, and spiritual teacher. Please come along — let’s talk to each other about the most natural (and guaranteed-to-happen) event in our lifetime.

image: detail from Pluto and Proserpina, white marble, 255 cm, by GianLorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), Italian sculptor, architect, and painter. This illustration is more than gratuitously erotic as it pertains to sex and death. In Greek mythology, Pluto, God of Dead Riches, charges out of the volcano Etna with four black horses, abducts and marries Proserpina, then takes her to Hades, the Greco-Roman Underworld.

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5 responses »

  1. Hi Peter
    My suggestion for the topic of death and all the decisions there after is let the people who you have left in charge of all those decisions read the documents they will need to follow before your passing or incapacitation to cover any questions or misunderstandings. I thought mine were pretty clear but there were still questions and legal concerns. Legal rulings are different from one province to another and even more so from one country to another by this I am expresses where you reside when you die and where the benefeciary lives when they receive could have implications. And have course re-evaluate evry 3-5 years or when relationships change. take care ella

    Reply
  2. I like your post. Great. Keep going..

    Reply
  3. This blog on death has made me reflect on a Dutch friend’s death a few years ago; he chose to die by euthanasia, as he had a disease he didnt wish to live with, and it was legal in his county. I wasn’t there, but i heard it was a very beautiful, moving experience for those who were. My friend was ready to go; he was saying to his friends “I’m going up…”. He had family and friends around him, and also calling him from around the world to say goodbye. As I heard about his death experience later, I thought how wonderful to get to say good-bye to those people we loved and cherished in our lives. I wish the same for myself when it’s my turn to leave this earth.

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  4. Death has come to me a few times this year. My eldest brother died unexpectedly about 6 months ago. Two days ago i found out a terminally ill person i know very well died last Tuesday. As i grow older, death is an ever increasing subject that i have to face. Our Buddhist practice reminds us not to dwell on death. On what will happen to “me” after i die. It is only speculation, and the mind is stuck on the future. So i try not to dwell on the subject much, but when it comes to your doorstep it is a big illusion, and i find it not so easy to dismiss.
    I have made a living will. I do not want to be resuscitated, if i am dying. I am donating my body to the University near where i live. My belongings are all planned to be given to my children. That is the practical side of my death. But the spiritual side is not so easy. I begin to have questions about the “Meaning of life”, “the absurdity of effort”, “how absolute temporary and short this life is”, “what is the purpose of life”, and so on. I know these are unanswerable questions, but they plague me just the same.

    Chana

    Reply
  5. I haven’t been visiting the site much since i started using google reader to RSS it…. I dunno what you’re using to check your visitor count, but keep an eye on your RSS subscription count too! I still read every article! My suggestion – don’t change a thing

    Reply

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