Suddenly the possibility of death from COVID-19 has come closer much more swiftly than we might have anticipated. However, although we may not have any control over when, where or how the coronavirus will be in our area, we DO have control over how we meet it. We CAN manage our fearful thoughts (see my blog on this); we CAN face up to our worst fears; and we CAN prepare ourselves practically.
Death is the one thing that is guaranteed in life and it is going to happen to you, someone in your family, or someone you know, and possibly very soon. Even if the statistics are apparently relatively low, the uncertainty has heightened – that brings feelings of helplessness, fear and a sense of being out of control. And that results in panic buying, a higher-than-normal-level of anxiety, and a disbelief that it is happening at all.
What are you actually afraid of?
When there is so much fear around coronavirus, I am wondering what the fear is actually of.
Are you afraid of getting coronavirus and dying yourself? Are you afraid of getting COVID-19, surviving, but passing it on to someone else who then dies? Are you afraid of one of your loved family members dying?
Whatever way you look at it, this is about fear of death.
What is so awful about death?
Death IS part of life, whether you / we like it or not. Ever since the human race began, individuals have had to face death in various different ways, whether at the end of a long or short life, via an accident or a sweep of a contagious disease.
Understandably, we all want to live as long as possible. But what if death wasn’t so bad?
What if when our older relatives with underlying health conditions die, it’s actually okay? What if YOU are one of the older ones, or compromised in some way – is there a way you can meet your fear and find a peace in that? What if your grief was normal, part of life’s process, and not to be feared?
We have to talk about this!
Traditionally, we in the Western world have been very loath to talk about death, or anything resembling it, in the last few decades.
But now, we have to. Because otherwise we will have people dying who didn’t want to, people being kept alive who, quite frankly, would rather have died, and many, many people who are just completely unprepared, whether it is them that die, a family member or a friend.
There’s an awful lot of work to be done after someone dies
We are going to have thousands of families discovering just how much work there is to be done after someone has died, who made no preparation beforehand.
By preparation I mean discussion (and documentation of that discussion) about the terms of your will, what you ideally would like at the end of life (eg to stay at home, be in a hospice, stay in your care home, or be in hospital – assuming all those options are available).
What would you want at the end of your life?
Would you want a DNR (do not resuscitate) order? To be intubated in the case of breathing difficulties? To just be kept comfortable and pain-free, rather than receive treatment?
You need to discuss this with your family or friends, and write down the results of that discussion. Include details about what you would want for your funeral, so it can be a chance of letting go properly, of grieving fully, by those coming after you.
This is so important, it is worth repeating: Although you may not have any control over when, where or how the coronavirus will be in your area, you DO have control over how you meet it. You CAN manage your fearful thoughts; you CAN face up to the fear of dying; and you CAN prepare yourself practically.
The debilitating effect of grief is not to be underestimated
The turbulent emotions of grief mean those mourning are in no fit state to have to deal with the mess of no will, decisions about burial or cremation, or where any funeral tea would take place, let alone messy finances, months spent looking for documents, and trying to discover missing money or tidying up loved ones’ online affairs because nothing was known about passwords, bank accounts, or their social media presence.
If you want to feel more in control
Accept the fact you MIGHT die sooner than you thought, and choose to prepare well for the inevitable now. If you find yourself having to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus threats, to work from home, or have your normal routine disrupted, choose to face up to preparing your own end-of-life plan (and/or help someone else plan theirs) – not because you necessarily think death will happen, but because it might happen (and anyway, one day, it definitely will).
How to prepare for a better end of life
Here’s a link to my free PDF 8 Essentials For Creating A Good End of Life Plan to get you started, and aware of just some of the things that need to be taken care of.
And if you want to take preparing for a better end of life further, then watch out for another blogpost as I will very soon be offering an End-of-Life Planning Made Easy Bootcamp to help you face your fear, find your strength, and get what needs to be done, done!