Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 56
know that's not always the way it goes. Thinking about
my children's death is the one thing that can bring me to
my knees in agony. But it happens. One of my son's best
friends just died in a hit-and-run car accident. I could
think only of his parents. Who’s thought about their 18
year old, whether he should be cremated or buried, and
if buried, where? How do you even start to think through
that kind of stuff? I couldn’t imagine the pain they were
in. Although the very worst thing that could happen
would be to have my children die, I am comforted by the
fact that we've had these conversations. They're young
and death seems so unlikely, but I know exactly what
they want done with their bodies.
After Making Friends With Death came out I realized I’d
done most of what I had been preaching. I had my advance
directive. I had a will. I'd answered my questions about
how I wanted my life to be celebrated. One thing I hadn't
done was leave my two kids any knowledge of who I am. I
forced myself to go through all my files, all my books, and
prepare one box for each of important things that spoke
about who I was and how much I love them.
It would be untruthful to say that I've made complete
and utter peace with my death and understand it fully.
However, what I have done is started a deepening
relationship with death that makes every day feel
better. I'm definitely on the right path, pointing my
ship in the right direction. Most days I feel like I can say,
"Yeah, I'm good to go." It will be a gift if people see on
my face that I'm good to go. I can't promise I'll feel that
way when the moment comes, but I have certainly put
a lot of tools in the toolbox, and at one point I didn't
even have a toolbox.
Create space for death. Create mindfulness for it.
You take the time to get your teeth cleaned, or the oil
changed in your car. Those aren't pleasant activities,
but you know you're going be grateful that your car's
running and your teeth aren't aching. Spend a couple
of minutes every night establishing a conscious death
awareness before going to sleep so that when the time
comes you’ve created a peaceful passing. To the person
who has very little time, I would say, develop a quick
death mantra. As I say in the book, a death mantra can
be an image that makes you smile. An image of your
kids when they were infants, or your dog's face, or
your cat batting a toy mouse. Something that's going to
make you smile. Get that in your head and focus on it.
Let it bring you a smile. Dying that way, with something
beautiful in your mind seems a good way to go.
From a conversation with John Wadsworth
LAURA PRITCHETT is a mere mortal who will someday die—and she’s feeling
better about that after writing Making Friends with Death: A Field Guide to Your Impending
Last Breath (To be read, ideally, before it's imminent). Laura has spoken to palliative care
associations, death cafes, and given classes.
She’s also the author of nine other books. She began her writing journey with the short
story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, which won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the
Milkweed National Fiction Prize. This was followed by three novels, which have received
starred reviews from Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal. Her book The
Blue Hour was listed as one of the “Top 5 books that will make you think about what it is to
be human” by PBS and made the Booklist Editor’s Choice for 2017.
LEARN MORE AT WWW.LAURAPRITCHETT.COM • EMAIL LAURA L_PRITCHETT@MSN.COM
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