Sandra Dick: Grasping the nettle of death makes it easier

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DEATH, irritating as it is, visits us all, hopefully not for a long time and when it does, fingers crossed it’s with a gentle sigh, some poignant last words that everyone will remember fondly, followed by a dignified trot off into the afterlife.

Nothing messy for me, thanks. I’d prefer not to go down blazing, don’t really fancy being scraped off a road or blasted to bits. And if my roots could be done and wee bit mascara applied, I’d be most grateful.

Death is, of course, inevitable, much as we like to pretend the chap with the scythe and the hooded cloak isn’t hanging about on our shoulder, he’s definitely there, checking his watch, sighing, wondering when this gig is going to end.

Contemplating our own demise is rarely top of our “things to do today” list, to be squeezed in between Homes Under the Hammer and Loose Women. We’d really rather not be bothered about that messy stuff because we’re all going to live forever, of course.

However last week was Grief Awareness Week, a cheery event in the calendar, a rival in the LOL stakes to Be Nice to Nettles Week – running, I kid you not, all this week, so do, if possible, remember to be nice.

Part of Grief Awareness Week saw some Edinburgh folks write their personal “bucket list” of things to do before they die, part of the global Before I Die project. The hope is that by demystifying death and planning for it, we can help ourselves and others through that final journey.

Some wishes were devastatingly simple, one woman wanted to operate a “stop-go” sign while the bloke next to her was more ambitious, although realistically he may well want to aim lower than that flight to Mars. One message echoed the wishes of every parent: “See what sort of man my son becomes.”

While removing the taboos that surround death is long overdue, it is, of course, how we live that really matters. And if we tick our personal “to do” boxes, even if it is just operating that stop-go sign, then death – while perhaps not top of our “must do” list – may not be so hard.

For more about Before I Die global arts project, follow @100percentscot or go to www.chas.org.uk/100percentproject