Talking about death and dying and embracing both as normal stages in our lives can improve our wellbeing, relationships and mental health. A big statement, I grant you. However, being a psychotherapist and someone with varied personal experiences of death and dying in my family and circle of friends, I know what a big difference our attitudes to either can make.
And most importantly, these are conversations we should have and attitudes we should shape well before death. Coming from a family and born at a time when talking about serious illness, mortality and death was mostly a taboo and limited to the event of death, I understand why that might be so.
I also know, from first hand experience, how such silent treatment of a very human topic can be as painful as it can be damaging. I also know how hard it can be to change such attitudes.
But most importantly, I can testify to how opening up about death and dying can be positively life-changing. It can bring families closer together, reduce fear, increase hope and grow the kind of inner resilience we all need in order to cope with the pain of death and loss – that of another as well as our own.
Ultimately, being open to death and dying allows us to be fully open to life and living.
In a mini series of short articles here on DEATH.io, I will share some personal stories about coping with illness, death and dying, such as:
- The relative, who did not want to talk about her impending death.
- The friend, who made being with her during the last weeks of her life the most remarkable experience.
- My late father, who struggled with giving me hope about death and dying when I was diagnosed with cancer.
- The choices I made about talking with others about my first and second cancer diagnosis.
- And what it’s like when we cannot say goodbye.
There is no right or wrong. We all have to figure it for ourselves. And we all do the best we can. You’re welcome to join the debate and share your views here on DEATH.io.
Karin Sieger is a London-based psychotherapist and writer. Her blog KarinSieger.com is among the Top 10 UK Psychotherapy Blogs. Karin specialises in support with personal transitions, grief, loss, making peace and the emotional impact of cancer, for which she has been treated herself. You can follow Karin via Twitter, LinkedIn or Faceb