What's the worst thing that might happen were we to talk about death? Most probably we would discover that it is not the morbid subject we maybe thought it was.
One of the foremost names to speak publicly about death was Elisabeth Kübler Ross. In the mid-1960's Elisabeth interviewed dying patients who were willing to talk about the experience for the benefit of medical students. Life magazine ran an article about these interviews called 'A Profound Lesson for the Living,' which you can read by clicking on the title. Mary first met Elisabeth in 1989 and subsequently trained with her - click the link at the end of this sentence to read more from Mary about her experience of Meeting Elisabeth Kubler Ross.
Elisabeth believed that facing our mortality is what truly enables us to live more fully. She wondered why out of sheer natural curiosity we do not speak more often about death since it is one of the few certainties of life. The sad thing is that many of us do not think or talk about death till it comes close to us due to illness or the death of someone close. But it does not have to be that way. We can choose not to stick our head in the sand when it comes to speaking about death.
Phototgraph taken at the annual Durrow Scarecrow Festival in Co Laois, Ireland.
Read more about Elisabeth's pioneering work in a Time magazine article "The Woman Who Made Death a Conversation Starter."
In recent times media reports tend to move away from using the word 'death.' The term more commonly used is 'passed away' or something similar. Since the word death is universally understood and adequate when speaking about the end of physical life there is no obvious need to change the term. To do so may add to the discomfort in speaking about death that already exists. My interest is in helping to alleviate any discomfort about the topic of death by hopefully helping others to approach the subject with less dread.
The current situation is so easy to improve. My experience and skills are available to individuals or groups to help them start a conversation about death. The images I have in my mind are of groups of people (2 or more) who are curious about death getting together to talk about it. Having a person present who is skilled in supporting the natural flourishing of the human person may lessen any anxiety and help the process by being there to deal with any fears or questions that may arise. Call me if you want to talk further about hosting your own 'Death Café.'
When the fear of death is lessened by speaking about it people are often relived and able to address important practical matters. Things like making a will or letting someone know where they would like to be buried or any other personal unfinished business.
Mary Stefanazzi and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Photo taken at Elisabeth's farm in Head Waters, Virginia, USA, 1991
Comments from people who have begun to discuss death openly, when not pressured to do so by circumstance, say that the experience was 'invigorating' and 'life-giving.' Every time we realise that our time on earth is limited many of our daily priorities fall into a different kind of order.
What we fear limits us greatly and causes us to hold in and repress questions that naturally arise in our hearts. Let me help you to lessen that fear? Give me a call to discuss what you would like and we can figure out the best way to meet your needs. You don't have to avoid the subject of death any longer. Not talking about death does not prevent it.
It is how you live until you die that is important. I look forward to talking to you soon. Call me? I offer appointments in person at various locations between Dublin and Westmeath or world wide via Skype.