Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Sunday, April 17, 2016

DNA and Fear

Rhododendron time in Oregon
Somewhere in our DNA we've apparently been programed to fear death. Everything in our society supports that fear.

If we should be fortunate to live a long life we will have to find the courage to die in a society that doesn't want to talk about it.

Doctors are often uncomfortable dealing with death because they've been trained to heal. Families do not want to talk about death. Many times friends do not want to talk about death.

Personally I think it's better to face death while you still have some years to live and enjoy life. Once that's done you're free to enjoy living until the end with no worries. Bob had a heart attack more than twenty years ago. Once he had recovered we talked about death, expressed our wishes to each other and to our children. Since that time it's never been an issue.

We're all very different in what brings us closure.  I did traditional funerals for my parents because that was what was culturally acceptable to them, their church and community.

I am so happy to be living in the Pacific Northwest where there's not so much pressure to have  funerals. We have a grandchild and daughter-in-law who lean toward the Buddhist tradition. There will be no funerals for either of us. Cremation is our choice. Our son has a shelf in his closet where he keeps the ashes of their deceased cats. I'm fine with our ashes going on the shelf with the cat ashes.

I once knew a professor who made elaborate plans for his funeral and through the years his secretary would be called on to update those plans. Sometimes an intended pallbearer would die before the professor and a new name would need to be inserted.

I encourage you to think about your own death and discuss your wishes with your family. It's not nearly as hard on everyone if you do it while you're still planning to live several years as it is to wait until death is near. That's unfair to your loved ones.


  1. I agree. Ken knows I want to donate organs, if possible, and be cremated. Ken's more reluctant than I to state his wishes. At the rate he still buys tools and old car parts, I suspect he doesn't plan to die, ever.

  2. I worked for estate planning attorneys during my career. I could not get my own mother to sign her healthcare documents much less a will. Like me, she didn't have a lot. That doesn't mean you don't have to take care of the medical and legal side of your end of life stage. I knew of a woman who won the lottery six months before she died. You should always have at least your healthcare documents in place whether you are 20 or 90.

  3. My directives are in place. DH knows what I want - so does moat everyone I know. I saw on Fb about the Viking funeral - if only, but you know, I won't see it anyway.

  4. I have had my advance directive in place for a number of years, but I do have to take care of filing it with both doctor and church offices in Florida.

  5. Yes, I really need to do that. I still don't have a will.
    Also, unless you tell your family you are a donor, you might not be one. In most states your driver's license only shows intention but is not binding if a family member refuses. Thanks for the nudge.

  6. Good post. I have no problem talking about death, but others near and dear to me seem to. I may have to try to push through that in the near future. We do have advanced directives.