By Becky Brice
From early childhood my mum would tell my brother and me what songs she would like at her funeral. To some this may seem a bit strange, but really it was good planning. The idea of not knowing what to play at her final send off makes me panic. She’s one of the most important people in my life, but put me on the spot and ask me what her favourite songs are and I start to perspire.
I was reminded of this last night when I heard a radio ad encouraging people to plan their funerals before the fateful day arrives. Sitting with my housemates I asked them if they had any preferences. I was initially given some confused looks, but soon we had some potential playlists ready. I really don’t see the conversation as morbid or sad. It ensures I am better prepared to make decisions when the time comes, plus I also think you can tell a lot by someone’s funeral music choices. My mum for example wants ‘Is this the way to Amarillo’ accompanied by Peter Kay arm movements and ‘Nimrod’. My dad on the other hand, any of ABBA’s greatest hits and ‘Dan Hill – Sometimes when we touch’. A little insight into the Brice household there.
The idea that most people are scared to approach a subject like this, even with their nearest and dearest, says a lot. My mum’s worked as a nurse her whole life, predominately with older people. I know from her experiences that we don’t treat our elderly with nearly enough respect and compassion as we should. The subject of whether to resuscitate or not is shied away from. The question as to where we would like to die evokes equally squeamish responses. Of course I understand the hesitation, I’m not completely dead inside, but no one is under the impression that we are going to live forever. Why not have the conversations that will make your ending the best it can be.
I know I may be in the minority. Like I say, my mum’s worked for years with people at the end of their lives, so the subject of death has never been off the table. Others however have had much more painful dealings with death and so have a ‘why approach it until you have to?’ attitude. Again, understandable. I just think that if you can stand it, these conversations are important and can bring you closer to those around you, and urge you to broach the subject if and when.
As for me, I haven’t quite figured out my playlist, but don’t you worry it’s in progress. It’s going to be a party.