Public speaking or death, which do you fear most ?

It is said that our greatest fears in life are public speaking and death, if you have ever thought you’d rather die than speak in public you are not alone. Jerry Seinfeld’s comment that people would rather be in the coffin that give the eulogy rings pretty true for many of us. Giving a eulogy is a skill and can be public speaking at its rawest.

As for my fear, it’s public speaking hands down, not that I’ve got death sorted but being an end of life doula I’m often reflecting on my own mortality and exploring what death means to me. Being around people at end of life I get to witness others experiences and while love may be present fear is never far away.

As a child we learnt to ride a bike, we had a steady hand guiding us, maybe some trainer wheels, we fell off, we were excited and we were often fearful. Would we fall off, would we hurt ourselves, can we do this ? With support and guidance many of us do things we fear. We did it, we walked, we rode a bike, horse, we jump out of planes, climb mountains, run marathons and the list goes on.

With guidance and confidence we can talk in public ,taking baby steps and leaning into that fear and making it to whatever stage we desire.

What happens once death occurs is still the unanswerable question, but if we explore death with its antidote Love what happens ? From what I witness the strength and power of fear is reduced. It may not go away but the crack allows a softness and lightness to beam in.

If the role of a eulogy is to reflect and pay tribute to a persons life why not honour their approach to death, it could offer a lasting lesson to those still living.

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What does it mean to Live and Die Well?

How we live is totally up to each and every one of us, which naturally will be influenced by many, many things. Our culture, family, history, experiences, health, the attitude and values we develop and the connections we make are just a few of the things that impact and determine who each of us are. How amazing to think, with a world population of over 7 billion people, each person has something that makes us “us” – our own unique being.

It is said that “we die how we live”. How we approach death and dying is pretty well much the same as to how we live. An experience told to me recently challenges this but in a very caring loving way. A very private person spent her last day and hours surrounded by people who loved her dearly, had travelled across the globe to see her, to be with her and to say their goodbyes. As the group filled her room they were noisy, sharing stories and recounting happy times together. There was little they could actually “do” apart from be there, talk to her and touch her. They patted her arms and hands, stroked her hair and forehead and offered gentle caresses knowing these offerings would also soon end. In hearing this story I thought how beautiful to have such care and attention from your tribe at this time. The story continued with the teller knowing that this person’s last day and hours were not really how she lived. Attention, noise and touching were not part of her living.

As the hours passed and the time presented, words of love were expressed to her unconscious friend. She acknowledged she knew she wouldn’t have liked all this attention, noise and being constantly stroked; for this, she apologised. Some hours later the person died, after the weary travellers had left along with their noise and attention, and the touching had ceased.

There were just a couple of special besties by her side to bear witness to her dying. This sounds just how she wanted it.

Living and dying well is whatever that means to each and every one of us. I can’t think that there are 7 billion ways to die well but thinking and talking about what it means to you and your family is a great place to start. As they say, an action starts with a thought, so what are yours?

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Inspirational Words

Are you a person that likes or dislikes an inspirational quote?

I’m generally not a person that goes for these, or to have affirmations written up reminding me to show up and be thankful for my life. I do have other ways to acknowledge this and I love it when I have moments where I need to pinch myself because a feeling of clarity and wonder catches me off guard. These moments are often in nature, be it the stunning beauty of a perfect flower, a tree that stands so still and majestically with a wind testing its stability, or the crunch and crackle of autumn leaves that are dying in preparation for the next season of life to come around.

 

Alongside these joys and experiences in nature, I will often jot down some words or a quote that somehow shakes my attention.

 

Words that someone has thought were useful for the world, sprayed on a wall, used as a slogan, written in a card or just picked up along my day.

 

Some of these include –

Seek the wisdom of the ages but look at the world through the eyes of a child. (Ron Wild)

Always forgive your enemy, nothing annoys them so much. (Oscar Wilde)

Arguing isn’t communication, it’s noise. (Tony Gaskins)

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. (unknown)

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. (Unknown)

Live life as if it’s rigged in your favour. (Rumi)

Do not be sad, as god sends hope in the darkest moments. The heaviest rains come from the darkest clouds. (Rumi)

There is a voice that doesn’t use words, listen. (Rumi)

The trouble is you think you have time. (Buddha)

Every day I miss you and it still hurts like the first day you gained your wings. (Unknown)

 

And on a humorous note;

“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”(George Bernard Shaw)

“Any day above ground is a good one” (Motto of the National Museum of Funeral History in Austin Texas)

Leigh

Would you like to know more? Book in with me for a free chat below.

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