Terminal scrapbooking

Back  September I wrote a post on the disposal of human remains… it was all part of my ongoing thoughts about death and dying. As I have explained previously, I think it’s important that we think about the end of our lives, both for our own sakes and to support the families and friends we leave behind. What has been occupying my mind recently, however, is how to put together all my research and ideas, so that they are accessible and available when they are needed.

The trouble with dying is that you don’t know how and when you’re going to do it, so you can’t make firm plans – it could be sudden, it could be prolonged; it could be tomorrow or in 50 years time; you could be ill, you could be well; you don’t know who will be around. What to do, then? How do I collate all the information I have been gathering? How do I make sure my family know what I want? Well, obviously, the first thing is to talk to people… Mr Snail-of-happiness knows how I feel about various aspects of the end of my life, as does my sister, but we’ve never discussed the subject ‘systematically’ and I’m sure there are things I have thought about that I haven’t passed on to them, or that they won’t remember.

Some resources I've been using, plus my empty book on the left

Some resources I’ve been using, plus my empty book on the left

I was really inspired last weekend, therefore, by a workshop that I attended about exactly this subject. It was run by Katie Shepherd, a former palliative care nurse, who has a very balanced perspective on the subject. She is putting together a website at the moment (not live yet, but I’ll let you know when it is) to provide support about end of life choices, including links to resources; she’s also going to be running workshops on the subject. She has drafted a form to fill in that gives guidance on the sort of things you might want to think about, but she also suggested making a sort of scrapbook. And at this point a light bulb went on in my mind! This is what I’m going to do – I’m going to print out bits from websites, I’m going to collect pictures, I’m going to make notes and I’m going to compile a scrapbook – my own Book of the Dead – that I can add to and modify as the years go by. I can include information about where to get a felt burial shroud (here, if you are interested), what sort of location I would like to be buried in, end-of-life treatment and so on. I’ll also be able to include messages and thoughts… I might even put a CD in it with music I like.

I can make it engaging and accessible and not fixed… and, strangely, I’m quite looking forward to doing it!

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  1. Personally, I’d like to go naked into a cardboard box and have a tree planted on me. An apple, maybe…?

  2. What a lovely thought provoking post. Doing something like this would truly make your funeral more personal.
    My husband doesn’t like to talk about death and although I think its important to discuss our wishes I don’t like making him feel uncomfortable.
    I’m very much into “Abraham Hicks” teachings and I like the idea of death simply being the next step on on endless and wonderful journey. In fact I use the word transition in place of death around like minded and understanding people…. it seems more appropriate. 🙂

    • Lots of people are uncomfortable about the subject… we cannot get my father to discuss it, for example. This seems like another good reason to leave a book behind – this way, those who don’t want to discuss the subject will at least have help with choices when we can’t be there to give them. Having been involved in arranging a funeral a few years ago that didn’t go particularly well because of the rush and pressure, I think some notes prepared in advance would really have helped.

  3. Well…I’m a bit speechless…and a bit confused,in a positive way indeed…but,lately,maybe because I was always told that we live in a valley of tears,I started to enjoy every single moment of my life,just to contrast those people who wanted me to suffer without any valid reason…I love every single thing I do,every single thought of my mind,I love to smile and feel good…now,in this very moment…I consider the journey on the Earth a stage of a bigger soul evolution and worth to be lived intensely….I’ll learn how to behave in the afterword when I’ll be there,hoping to find my father to help me… 🙂 well,this is me…it is a quite selfish way to be…just while I write this post I realize that your thought is so deep and altruistic…as I always say,I have to learn and learn and learn…thank you for sharing your point of view and life style
    a huge hug

    • I really am not thinking about this in a negative way… we all have to die sometime, so it really is a part of our life that we should embrace.
      Oh, and it’s not that I’m about to die (I hope!)

      • As once Virginia Wolf said,when I read your post a stream of consciousness spread in me…and I put in words my thoughts…I understood now what you wanted to say and I’m pleased to hear speaking about death in such a positive way. 😀

  4. What a wonderful idea 🙂
    I’ve been thinking about the processes of death for a few months now, especially as family crises brought it to the fore and, although hubby doesn’t really want to face it all just yet, I feel that, as parents of a single child, it behoves us to arrange things properly before we die, so that our daughter won’t have to try and make major decisions while in the midst of grieving.
    I think making a scrapbook of all the things we’d prefer is a great idea, especially if we want something that isn’t the usual sort of thing, and I’m definitely going to do this, as I have specific things I wish for, in the disposal of my mortal coil 🙂

    • Probably not a subject you wanted to be thinking about at the moment, but I’m sure your daughter will be grateful that it is something you have addressed. I really want to create something very personal and a typed list or a computer file just wouldn’t do this… creativity should last to the end of our lives!

      • I guess it’s what’s been happening recently that made me ever more convinced that something should be done to set my own house in order, so-to-speak 🙂

        I agree with you, we all need to arrange things so that they will be done personally to us, and the more creative we are about it, the more it will reflect our personalities – and make things easier to arrange for our loved ones, too 🙂

        I hope I’ll always be able to express my creativity to the end of my life, whenever that is, and to have this celebrated at the end, instead of being it being mourned 🙂


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