How old do you want to live to be?
I would really like that to be a surprise. I don’t want to see it coming. I try to live like it could come any day and I would be ok with it. I want my kids to be ok with it too, so at least another few years.
Do you have a fantasy funeral?
I don’t think I want a big funeral. I don’t want to be worrying from the grave about whether or not people were invited, whether they feel like they have to come and don’t want to or whether no one comes at all. I would just like my kids to get together and make some chicken soup and talk about some things about me they liked. Then take my ashes and put them somewhere they would like to visit.
What scares you the most about dying?
I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of living in pain, or dementia or fear but dying is not frightening. Dying is just what happens next.
What would your 3 pieces of wisdom be for the those left behind?
1.Try to tell the truth, even when it feels so much harder than a lie.
2.Before you, do or say anything that you have any concern about at all, take an hour or even better a day to think about it and check it out with someone else.
3.Don’t go to Wholefoods hungry. You will only buy things you don’t need or really want. Same is true of relationships when you are feeling lonely, you will take home whatever you find rather than thinking about what you really need.
If you had a destination funeral where would it be?
The Isle of Skye, I have never been there, but I am Scottish and it feels suitably craggy and cold and memorable.
Open casket wake? Burial? Cremation?
I have always said I wanted to be stuffed and kept on the sofa, but I think that is illegal. I suppose being cremated is the best bet for me. I would like to disappear without fuss.
If cremation, where would you want your ashes spread?
Wherever my kids choose, it is for them not me.
Top 5 songs to play at your funeral?
Biber Violin Sonata No. 5 in E Minor is the only song, it is 11 minutes long, that is enough music for one funeral.
If you could live forever, would you want to?
I would not. I don’t want to outstay my welcome.
Where do you think you go once you die?
My Mum and Dad’s house.
If there is a heaven, who are 3 people you would like to hang out with?
I would like to hang out with the same people I hang around with here. Intelligent people who are trying to be better. There are lots of people I would like to talk to; Plato, Cleopatra, Napoleon, Joan of Naples, Elizabeth of Aquitaine, Margaret Tudor, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Anne Frank, but I want to hang out with people I love, there are a lot more than 3.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, I feel ghosts around me all the time, complex energy. I do not know how to talk to them.
If reincarnation is real what do you want to come back as?
I would like to try this life again. I could do a few things differently.
What are three words you hope people use to describe you when you are gone?
Kind, generous, curious.
Biggest regret in life?
I have no regrets. I have things I would do differently if I had known what I know now, but I did my best with the information and abilities I had at the time.
What are the top 3 things that helped you through grief?
Time, prayer and other people.
What’s the best advice someone gave to you?
It is ok to be sad, don’t run from it but instead, walk through it. Look around and observe the landscape of sadness so that you can try to help someone else navigate it when they ask you.
What did you find helped you the most through the grieving process?
Working and cooking, friends and keeping busy helped the most. I kept myself very busy. Children are great for grief, because you cannot stay sad all the time when you are with them. Sadness is infectious for children and no one wants to make their kids sad.
How was navigating the funeral home system and what’s your advice?
It was tired, tiring and expensive. I don’t really have advice, I went through it on autopilot. I wish I had been more present through the experience.
If you were to give someone 1 piece of advice on grief what would it be?
Remember that the funeral, the service, the acts of remembrance are for those who are left behind. Do what will give you a place, a thing, a memory that fills your heart with joy at the thought of the person you have lost. Make the bench near your home, the urn in your garden, the song on your playlist, it is for you to remember them and feel them close to you again, they are not lost if you have that.