29/11/2012 09:53 GMT | Updated 28/01/2013 05:12 GMT

Dying and Writing

We are all dying.

Common sense tells us that not a single one of us will escape death. Wealth and power may buy comfort and even expensive life saving drugs, but in the end, nothing can save us from our ultimate fate. In a nutshell, it comes to us all.

And so the question is not if, but when? And how? Along with probably a great deal more questions including will it hurt? How long have I got? Is there an afterlife? And, depending on the circumstances, why me and why the fuck now - just when everything was finally going


If you'd like to read about death, you'll be glad to know that there's no shortage of material available. Numerous books and articles deal with the subject in many and various ways. And if you fancy consigning your own thoughts to print, there's more good news. According to researchers, who analysed work from psychologists and philosophers, thinking (which inevitably precedes writing) about death makes you happier. Ok, it makes you a bit miserable at first, but after that, you perk up no end, and feel better than you did to start with. Apparently the initial and natural sadness that comes with thoughts of death is followed by an increased awareness of all the important and good things in life - relationships, motivation, fulfilment, and so on.

All this is effectively brought on because thinking about death reminds us sharply that the old two step off this mortal coil is something that can happen to any of us at any time. Precious time.

When my father died, a couple of years ago, I wrote about his funeral - and the fact that I nearly didn't go to it. It was one of my best pieces, I think, probably because it came from the heart. And of course I found it cathartic. As any writer knows, just the act of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can unleash all kinds of hidden thoughts, fears, opinions, hopes. A veritable Pandora's box. Someone close to me is currently going through the dying process, and I shall not be writing about it, for that very reason.

But of course the unleashing process can happen with any subject.

That's the joy of writing.