Monday, February 3, 2014

When You are Gone ..... The Obituary

I know some folk think I have a morbid interest in "death" - which I would dispute.  I have seen many people die - I have been with them in their last moments, and liken it to being at a birth.  So many people after witnessing a birth - be it an animal or a baby, are often overwhelmed by the experience.

As a nurse, I was initially afraid of death - perhaps feeling that we (doctors, nurses) etc had failed - but if one stands back a little, and sees that death is only one part of life, it is a lot more comforting.  No one, even with all our marvellous medical and scientific research has been able to get anywhere close to finding how one can live for ever - and indeed, who would want to???  I had some amazing experiences as I sat with folk who were dying, and were prepared to talk and say goodbye as it all happened.

We should indeed do everything we can to prolong a life which will be a quality life - I don't see the point of spending a huge amount of resources keeping someone alive well beyond their use-by date.  Ooops, I am digressing, but since I am on the topic, just think about how long Mandela was kept alive in what we believe to be in a vegetative state.  Recently there have been other press stories about similar events.  I don't really see the point in it - and I certainly don't wish to be kept "alive" in a comatosed state for any length of time - having nurses and carers doing for me what I no longer can do for myself.

This post wasn't really going to be about what I have said above - but darn, I have done it.  I've had a rant on a topic that is one close to my heart.

What I really wanted to talk about is the story that you leave behind.  The Obituary perhaps.

There's quite a history of Obituary writing - and anyone inclined to find out more can read about the history in Dr Nigel Starck's book "The Art of Obituary".  I did some research recently and found that most obituaries (certainly in our state's main newspaper were predominately about men.  In fact in one month there were 21 obituaries of men, and 6 of women.

I concluded that not many women (unless they are hugely famous or well known) have their story written.  In fact I am quite sure if I extended my "research" to other newspapers,  I would find that similar statistics.  In speaking with women, they tend to by a little shy and consider their lives too "ordinary" and not worthy of documentation, in the way that many men see their stories.

We have such amazing resources these days, that we should all be recording our history - and I know from experience that it is a tremendous adventure. 

I will be working this year to encourage more folk to write their own life story... which of course can be the basis for their obituary when the time comes.


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