What do you do when you’ve been told you likely have 6-12 months to live?
You put your affairs in order.
But according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 approximately half of all deaths were unexpected deaths (heart disease, strokes, dementia, injury/accident).
And yet, many of us do not have our “affairs in order” (whatever that phrase is supposed to mean).
So, I was blessed enough to speak at Mindful Mamas 2017 Mama Camp. It was as beautiful, nurturing and joyous as you would imagine.
I spoke about my journey of cancer and I spoke about death.
I ran one particular exercise which really illustrated to me just how much the brain doesn’t want to think about our own, personal, death.
I asked all the ladies to stand up if they had car insurance. And all stood up. Then I asked them to remain standing if they genuinely believed that they WILL be in a car accident in the next year. And all but 2 sat. (Those two had vocational reasons for standing). Then I asked everyone who had house insurance to raise their hands. And I asked them to keep their hand up if they genuinely believed that their house WILL burn down in the next year. All dropped their hands.
Then I asked the ladies to raise their hand if they had a current, legally binding will that reflected their circumstances and they are happy with.
As you could imagine, only a third put their hands up.
I asked them to raise their hand if they thought they were going to die at some stage.
You see where I’m going with this, right?
It’s not that we don’t have time to get our affairs in order. It’s not that we can’t afford it.
If you have house and car insurance – you have the time and money to make a will. And Powers of Attorney. And an Advanced Care Directive. But we don’t want to because it means we have to absolutely face the fact that misfortune can happen to us and we ARE going to die at some stage.
But here is where I want to challenge you:
We put SO much effort into crafting beautiful lives for ourselves. We put so much effort into having things in our home that make us smile, or friends who lift our spirits, or songs on our phone that make us dance.
I don’t know about you, but I want that stuff to be front and centre as I die. I want my family touching me and I want the scent of jasmine and rose wafting through the air. I want gentle jazz playing in the background and a room with a view of trees so I can see what season it is in my final moments.
As Atul Gawande said “for human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story… and in stories, endings matter.”
I leave you with that thought….
After cherishing every moment of Mama Camp 2016, T.H Ley was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 2 days later. She was 20 weeks pregnant. And had a two year old. Tess’ journey over the past year has taken her to places no mama wants to go, as she has been forced to question “how do I prepare my kids for my death?”.
To read more from T.H Ley check out her Instagram account – tiny_green_hands