It would be impossible to write about this topic without reflecting on belief systems encountered around the world, but I am also mindful that many individuals today may be growing up without any concept of a good role model to give them some insight into how to embrace death. The majority of individuals in this day and age are taken away to a strange place with white sheets, alarm bells and strangers where they see out their final hours in this beautiful world. So the focus of this blog is not on beliefs about what happens after death, it is more about the processes we now accept as part and parcel of clocking out of this life.
I have been involved in healthcare for over 40 years and have been privileged to be part of many births as a midwife, but also part of some ‘good’ deaths and some not so good deaths. My perception of a good death is one where an individual slowly and gracefully leaves this world without fear, whilst a not so good death is one where a loved one leaves us suddenly and tragically. This is where they go out of the door in the morning with a cheery wave and never return. This type of death I imagine may be better for the person concerned who passes out of life quickly, but it is not so good for the family. The ripple effect of the shock that occurs can be overwhelming and leave a lasting legacy, but this blog is not about sudden death either. This blog is about Dying Wild, it is about dying in a way that allows us to feel the full force of the natural world to help ease the path each one of us will one day tread. It is about dying itself as part a natural cycle as opposed to death.
In my work with those who are ageing, I am continually stressing the importance of sensory experiences through the free and easy to access natural world. This is a world that everyone has been in contact with at some point in their lives and which stimulates all the senses even before our moment of birth. In our modern concept of dying we do not generally consider the importance of smell, or touch, or even taste when food starts to become less important, but there are many things we can do to help a loved one travel on this journey.
As the baby boomer generation, renowned for pushing back so many boundaries and for living wild, start on this final path it may be they are ones that will breech this final barrier. As a member of that generation I have lived wild and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I do not want to dip out of wildness as the end approaches. I like to think I will embrace a new wild adventure as much as I have my travels to remote and glorious places in my living years and even more remote places in my mind.
However I fear the fear that comes with that territory. To counteract this, I hold on to the fact that I have been fearful many times in my life and eventually faced those terrors. I hold in my mind those people I have known who have gone before and who showed me if they can do it with dignity and calmness, then so can I.
I don’t want to be wrapped up and clinically disposed of into a meaningless system even before I die. I want to be free to feel my lungs fill with fresh air that spreads to my fingers and toes, to touch the grass and once again have time to watch ants and insects scurrying about their business, to smell the warmth and comfort of my dog and my horses, to let the sun sparkles kiss my old face and the rain soften my wrinkly liver spotted skin. I want to feel this world with all my senses as I pass out of it. I want to die as I have lived – Wild.