Does anyone personally know Michelle Knox? Because we’d like to be friends with her. We have much to talk about. Listening to this story about her on NPR, we had a classic NPR “driveway moment.” We laughed out loud along with a little bit of car-crying.
We wanted to know more. It turns out that Michelle works in finance in Sydney, Australia. She is a traveler and blogger who lost her father in 2017. Her personal experience in grief and dying motivated her to research how others talk about and prepare for death. She found that it’d be a lot easier to live if we talked about death now while we are healthy.
Listening to her TED talk is a master class in how to talk about death in a straight-forward way while even being funny. She reminded us of what we’ve discussed before about the benefits of planning ahead. There are so many overwhelming decisions to be made when someone dies, as she points out: “coffins, headstones, headstone wording, headstone font size... all while sleep deprived.” It gives our loved ones comfort to know in advance what we would have wanted, and takes some of the burden off them in making the many arrangements. Don’t we all want to give our loved ones that small comfort?
She also uses the term “good death” because her father died as he wished: at home, surrounded by family, peacefully. We’ve written about the concept of a “good death” before. We could relate when Michelle said that it was a privilege and gave her peace to help her father follow his wishes to achieve a good death. We’ve also taken notice of people out there working to change our avoidance culture and help others achieve a good death. There was recently an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times by one of these amazing humans about people’s desire for nature at the end of their lives. Even with all the wonderful people working in palliative care, it still takes some planning on our part: reflect on what you consider a good death, and tell your loved ones, before it’s too late.
We are proud that our sister achieved a good death. We hope for the same for ourselves. Towards that goal, we are writing more of our wishes down. Michelle’s story was a great reminder that we should think through all the details, including wishes for burial and memorial services. She brings up many important considerations like: “Do you want to be near the ocean, or in the ocean?” We believe, as Michelle does, that planning ahead doesn’t need to be scary or sad. In fact, we might make it “fun” by opening a bottle of wine!