Oh, The Australian, what a social media storm you have whipped up. I sit here wondering if there really could be someone so insensitive as to write and publish the obituary for Colleen McCullough or do we have a case of the writer having the last word? I did not know her personally, but my sense of her is feisty with a healthy sense of humour. Could these be her last published words?
I sincerely hope it is the latter, because if it’s not we have a long way to go in relation to how we talk about our dead and for that matter the dying and death experience in a broader context.
This is a subject we see as taboo and something to be feared and shunned which as a result leaves us sadly unprepared for the deaths of our loved ones. As a result we avoid having conversations about what our end of life wishes are and leave our fate to chance and often in the hands of a medical profession that largely views death as a failure.
When we will return to, in this sense, ‘the good ole days’, where death was just an accepted part of the cycle of life? It is something that we will all face, yet we are often tragically unprepared and consequently experience much deeper and more painful grief.
The dying and death experience is sacred and deserves to be treated as such. How many of us have experienced the death of a loved one knowing that the whole experience could have been handled so much better, with less pain and more dignity? I would say almost everyone.
If this obituary was written by a journalist at The Australian, I would suggest that both they and the approving editor need a lesson in compassion; that they need to spend some time in a hospice or spend some time in a nursing home witnessing first-hand how confronting and degrading this experience can be. Then they may just have some compassion for those who knew and loved Ms McCullough and perhaps next time write about their subject with a little more sensitivity than that of a Mack truck.
Peace & blessings, Sharon