COLUMN | Dying to talk
I’m afraid that I’ve got some really bad news for you. I’m not usually so blunt but there’s something that I need to tell you. You’re going to die one day. Sorry about that. I know it’s not palatable but it’s going to happen. No one has, as yet, escaped the inevitable. It’s an uncomfortable fact for most of us and one which we, generally, try to avoid thinking about.
The organisation Dying Matters has been promoting talking about death, forward planning and trying to break down taboos surrounding death. Their recent survey findings are fascinating. Only a third of people have made a will, half of people don’t know what their partner’s funeral wishes are and over 70% of people haven’t given any though to what would happen to their on-line legacy. Future care planning is important too. How can medical professionals decide what treatment to give us if we haven’t made our wishes clearly known about what kind of treatments we’d like to have carried out?
There are a whole host of additional issues that can present themselves for LGBT people. If you’re in a relationship, is your partner the person nominated to be your next of kin, your advocate or your beneficiary? There are whole hosts of horror stories about bereaved partners who are left homeless, cut out of funeral plans and denied the place they should be entitled to in the pecking order of mourners by resentful and bigoted families. I certainly wouldn’t want that to happen to mine or anyone else’s partner.
The digital legacy frightens me. I hate the idea that my social media accounts would linger on with mawkish pictures of sad kittens and inept tributes after my death. That’s not my style at all. It may suit some people but isn’t for me. My partner has strict instructions to close the accounts down the minute I croak. He just has to look in the bureau and find the folder marked “Death” to find the will, passwords, explicit instructions and funeral plans. Maybe I’m an extreme example of a control freak but is that so bad?
Naturally, LGBT people have their own special issues. No one wants a Grindr account loitering in the ether with their preference for ‘hard tops’, after they’ve been hit by a car. What about your collection of European twink porn? Is that something you want your mum to have to sort out for the charity shop along with your barely worn Aussie Bums? Does anyone know which Britney song you want at the funeral and which ex shags you definitely don’t want there?
Flippancy aside, it’s something that’s worth thinking about. Anyone who’s had an unmarried or non-civil partner-shipped relative or friend die intestate will tell you just how much easier it would have been to sort the post mortem affairs out with a sturdy will in place. Anyone left with a dying relative or friend who has had no idea about what their care or funeral wishes are will tell you how hateful and hard that can be.
It’s definitely worth checking out the Dying Matters website. It’s not as bleak or painful to read, as you’d think and it’s bloody important. Seriously.
Read more here: http://dyingmatters.org/
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.