Dad warned me that he wanted to talk about serious stuff a few days before we had our first conversation about his death.
The run up to that first conversation was awful. I had no idea how to engage in the subject and the implications of it. I knew that he wanted to talk about his will, the arrangements he had made for Mum and the rest of the family, as well as what to do with him once he’d died. I think I felt every emotion possible beforehand: sorrow at the thought of losing him; anxiety about how not to hurt his feelings when talking about his own mortality, and I’m ashamed to admit, guilt as I wondered about his financial arrangements and what they might mean for us, and the RNLI (!).
I couldn’t imagine how the conversation of talking about death might actually go, and how we might both feel about it during and afterwards. I was terrified of messing it up.
Looking back, I was right to be anxious as it was a pretty emotional conversation. Dad however was amazing, being well prepared and knowing exactly what he needed to say. I really struggled to keep it together, and found my mind whirring about all sorts of things, none of which seemed very important or useful at that time.
Since that first conversation, we have had many more, and each one has got easier for us both. We are pretty practical now, and are even able to joke about some of the more difficult stuff. We’ve gone beyond conversations and visited the plots in the churchyard that he has earmarked for him and Mum. That was a slightly weird moment, but also funny and lovely. He pointed out other friends from the village already there, or the location of others who have also booked their slots. He and Mum are going to be very social once they get there!
I’m very lucky to have had these conversations with Dad before he heads off to the eternal party in the churchyard. It has definitely made everything easier, for me, but most importantly for him, as he now feels that anything can happen, and we will do the right thing.