On Thursday 27 June, I organised a local event; “With the End in Mind an Audience with Dr Kathryn Mannix”
When Dr Mannix offered to come to Carmarthen, I panicked a bit wondering how a Funeral Celebrant in Carmarthenshire leads a talk about dying. I’ve written about funerals before, of course. Such as in Funeral for a Friend and The Perfect Resting Place
This was the first of its kind within West Wales, featuring Dr Kathryn Mannix. She is best-selling author of the book “With The End in Mind”. I hosted the evening. Dr Rebecca Croft, Ty Cymorth’s Palliative Care consultant and Rev. Euryl Howells, Hospital Chaplain joined us on stage.
The evening addressed various issues around the subject of death and dying. Central to Dr Mannix’s presentation was, since the introduction of the NHS, few people see someone die. Therefore few realise that there’s a gentle process at the end of life which most people follow. We are more influenced by screen interpretations of death than the “real thing”, and this can be misleading.
Use the “D” Word!
That which we don’t understand we fear, therefore we fear death more than ever before. Even to the extent that we don’t say the “D” word, and we don’t discuss our demise ahead of time. This can lead to us experiencing greater grief than perhaps we need to when someone close to us dies. I often witness bewilderment in the families whom I’m helping, as do many who were involved in last night’s discussion.
Let’s Talk about Death
Dr Mannix gave examples from her book of families whose experience of death could have been made easier. Children must give parents “permission” to discuss what should happen in extreme illness or even after death for their funeral. Following her presentation, the panel discussed the issues Dr Mannix presented. Then I took the mic around the audience for their input, which was lively and at times very touching.
Everyone seemed to agree that, instead of euphemisms such as “passed”, “lost” etc. we should adopt a robust use of the words, “death” dying” “died” and so on. This would help accept the reality of dying. This is true in all places from the media to schools to funeral directors. I noted that even our local media was squeamish about even discussing this event, despite having such an expert speaker.
3 Wise Women!
After the event, Dr Mannix remarked that this was possibly the best she’d yet to attend. She noted audience was very caring of each other, applauding when an individual shared a personal or helpful anecdote. Rev Howells reflected afterwards; “we had been brought into the 21stcentury in Bronwydd – myself there with 3 Wise Women!!”
So, as “Women”, or just “People” (wise or otherwise) let’s spread the word – the “D” word – and help everyone face that which is inevitable head on so that we live our life without the fear of dying.