Talking About Dying

To my great surprise the British media is currently trying to lift the lid on what it means to have a terminal disease and face your own death.  Probably due to the huge numbers of people who are currently being diagnosed as terminally ill at midlife and younger. One of my favorite TV shows since arriving here is Billy’s Big Send Off  by comedian Billy Connolly. He was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease. As you might expect, the show is full of black jokes such as the story Dame Judy Dench told him.  A hearse passed in the street one day and her daughter wanted to know what it was. In a misguided attempt to shield her young child from the morbid truth, Judy fibbed,  ‘It’s a wedding.’  To which her daughter replied ‘But why are they taking the wardrobe with them?’

Billy says when his time comes he wants ‘a simple box and a shallow grave’.  Just to be sure, he went on a world tour of different funeral options.  My favorite was Eloise Woods, a green burial ground in Texas, where it is all about letting the body return to nature. It looked just about perfect to me. The dead are wrapped in a simple beautiful shroud (no pimped up coffin). Loved ones can dig the grave if they choose, bring a picnic and hold their own service.  At the other extreme, Billy watched as a rich coconut farmer was buried in a huge coconut-shaped coffin in Ghana (where people often go into debt for fancy funerals). He also looked into cremation (Laura’s choice). I was pleased to learn that in Eastern countries like Bali, fire is thought to release the spirit allowing it to travel up to heaven.

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4 thoughts on “Talking About Dying

  1. I saw this recently and for some reason it brings me comfort. It is funny and also serious at the same time and keeps me pondering:
    “You’re a ghost driving a meat coated skeleton made of stardust. What do you have to be scared of?”

    Love to you!

    Kathleen

    Like

  2. I was in Ghana on a church trip 15 years ago. On a hot Sunday afternoon after a 5 hour church service, every one wanted to nap. I was determined to go to the coffin makers I had read so much about. Our driver was game and one by one everyone joined the excursion. They were amazing. I have some crazy photos.

    Here are a few online images:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/feb/07/ghana-coffins-in-pictures#/?picture=403689925&index=0

    Like

  3. It looks like you are relaxing and decompressing on this beautifull trip Lucy. I’m reading all your posts.
    New York misses you 🙂

    Like

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