Kate Hobson

Mortality – that’s a tricky one. I find it difficult enough to think about a lovely summer’s day in the depths of winter, or vice versa, without trying to envisage something of which I can have no experience, at first or second hand. The only tool I have for tackling my own mortality is my imagination, which is not helpful, as it inevitably dwells on the awful ways I could die rather than the fact of dying. Like many people, I like the idea of quitting the party while it’s still going on, quickly and without warning. But that is so not good for the people left behind.

Sudden death is a physical as well as an emotional shock. And it’s messy. Even the most prepared people won’t have thought of everything and may not have updated their will or their funeral wishes very recently. That can be difficult enough to cope with, but the worst thing is not being able to say goodbye.

A ‘good death’ allows for that. Beyond making sure the important people have your computer and email passwords, there may be the doing of the as yet undone, the mending of relationships, the reallocating of priorities, the saying of things not yet said. It may be preparing loved ones for a life without you, or it may simply be creating or stashing away a store of good memories that will provide sustenance in the dark days to come.

I hope I will be lucky and brave enough to have a good death.