The stories we tell ourselves, the mind games we play

A recent story in a daily newspaper reported that the adult parents in a family of four had determined not to write up their wills, saying: “Making a will makes us feel very old.”

Haven’t got around to it is another reason, people offer up, when asked this important question. These are hardly legitimate justifications – more on the use of this word as we attempt to unpack what’s going on in the minds of the modern Aussie.

Butterfly emergence into life.

About 45 percent of Australians don’t have a legal will.  These same time poor families are not so time poor that they can’t spend hours ferrying children to sport and both parents travelling to and from a paid job, sometimes hours away from home.  If travelling on public transport they could jot down the basics on the train or bus on their digital devices.  If in the car, they could use the record function on the phone as easily as chat to someone about the latest movie or other social event.

These same people can find the time to go for coffee, to plan and go on holidays – many overseas at great expense.

We hear the reasoning – better known as excuses – but we don’t accept or buy the rationale as being reasonable. We think it’s selfish and hard to justify.

We can insure the car and house, go to the movies, pay for regular attendance at sporting events such as the football or tennis, buy wine, take lotto tickets, have expensive mobile phone plans, subscribe to Netflix – all the  things the modern family can find the time for and spend the money on.

But, really in this day and age, with all the time saving devices at our finger tips, to be able to justify hours on social media, but not plan for the inevitable, cannot be justified from our perspective.

Toast to life

Darkness and light, ending and beginning. The setting of the sun each day marks another ending, and the rising of the sun each day marks a new beginning. 

The time when we publicly, collectively gather to celebrate in large numbers is New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. A classic case of an ending and beginning.

In the larger symbolic sense, this could be likened to a dying and a birthing – the dead and the living.

The GroundSwell Project encourages discussions about death as part of death literacy.

For any given day of the year, for some family unit somewhere in our midst, there will be a passing parade where the ranks of the departed will grow by one, with a death, while on the other side of the ledger, the ranks of the living will grow by one, with a birth.

In a nod of the head and tipping of the hat we acknowledge or at last we should acknowledge the reality of life that includes death as a norm.

The stories of our ancestors need to be passed down across the generations – “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” from the poem Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns in 1788.

Death need not be a stranger. With each day, no matter our age, we draw a little closer to the closing curtain times than the opening bars of the symphony. This is not a morbid mode of thinking. It is a realisation of how frailty and co-morbidities will most probably take us out at the ending of days if we are fortunate enough to live past the three score and ten years of days long ago.

Invite death literacy into our daily practice and weekly conversations. Normalise the passing of time and bigger picture that we are each a part of.  Toast with honey or strawberry jam, or maybe a savoury spread, a cuppa and a meaningful conversation with content of substance such as writing a will. By doing this we can pave the way for healthier futures that include setting aside the time for reviewing and updating our said will and preparing advance health care plans, appointing an enduring guardian and power of attorney.

Truly worthy tasks calling for a toast to life.

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