A New Relationship Between Death and Well-Being

Posted on December 9, 2019


Life in the Boomer Lane subscribes to a site titled mindbodygreen, mostly to be informed that whatever she is doing is entirely bad and wrong. Yesterday, however, she came across an article that she wholeheartedly agrees with: We usually only talk about death when it is happening or has just happened. Until recently, in our culture, death wasn’t a part of life. We made no mental or physical preparations. When we did mention death to anyone, we were told we were being morbid. It’s almost as though talking about death would cause it to happen.

Many people still agree. But, in recent years, some of that has been changing. As science comes up with better ways to prolong life, some of us, in addition, are developing better ways to prepare for death. If both life and death are part of the same process, we get to improve death as well as we improve life.

People are choosing quality of life over quantity. The number of people dying in hospitals has dropped dramatically. While this is due in part to some insurance companies (like Medicare) no longer allowing terminal people to linger in hospitals, it’s also because many people are rejecting the impersonal hospital environment, and life-extending treatments that cause unnecessary suffering.

People are looking for sustainable ways to die. The article points out that “10 acres of cemetary requires 1000 tons of casket steel, 20,000 tons of concrete for vaults, and enough wood from buried coffins to build over 40 houses. Cremation, though thought to be an eco-friendly option, often requires the burning of natural gas, which in turn increases the amount of natural greenhouse gases we release into the air.”

There are other options, like the mushroom burial suit (You can also hear about it on Ted Talks) and companies that turn bodies into soil. You can have your ashes made into a diamond (LBL is quite short and fears hers would be a mere chip) or become one with the ocean. Just as there are birth doulas, that lead women through birthing, there are death doulas that lead people through the death process.

If we think of life and death as part of the same process, talk about death becomes life-affirming. LBL is personally proud of the choices (well, most, at any rate) she has made in life. She feels equally empowered to make choices about her death, or, at the very least, about what happens to her after her death.

One of her commitments for the coming year is to look death right in the eye and make decisions now about what happens after her death. If she is very, very lucky, she will also be able to decide what will happen during the final days that lead up to that.

LBL vows to take charge of her death in the same way she takes charge of her life: to be responsible, caring and to made decisions that not only serve her but do no harm to others. Aside from convincing her children to get their stuff out of her attic, she’s been pretty successful thus far. She will keep Loyal Readers informed of the choices she makes in the coming year, when even more after-death options become available.