In “normal” times, Americans tend to steer clear of talking about death. But in the midst of a raging pandemic, we can hardly put our heads in the sand. That’s why the new and already award-winning* Netflix movie Dick Johnson is Dead is a must watch.
A short summary: Dick’s daughter—and the film’s director Kirsten Johnson—helps her father prepare for the end of his life. The movie is quirky, dark, funny, poignant, fantastic–and yet very, very real.
Watching this film, I laughed, cried, and felt grateful—for Dick, his daughter—and for all of us who are experiencing grief. Who are trying to figure out, in fits and starts, how to talk about each of our inevitable ends. How to live, and die, well.
Some of the film’s scenes reminded me of my own journey as my Dad aged, and eventually passed, at age 96. Almost daily, I’d wonder: is THIS the day his life will end? If it is, how will it happen? Will it be painful? Peaceful? Will I be at his bed side? What if I’m not?? (In the end, he died peacefully at home, in his sleep, and I, along with most of the family was present. If only we could all be that fortunate…)
Naturally, projecting my concern about how my Dad would die is a way to forget that I, too, will pass. After all, we usually don’t get to choose how we leave this world. I could have gone before him.
IMO, film critic Alissa Wilkinson gets it exactly right when she notes on Vox: “American culture fears death, hides it, tries to forget it’s going to happen, and goes to great lengths to stave it off. But Dick Johnson Is Dead suggests that learning to confront reminders of death, to even conjure them for yourself and examine them closely, takes some of the sting out of death and replaces it with love.”
*Critics’ Choice Documentary Award for best documentary feature and the film’s Kirsten Johnson for best director
A must watch on Netflix: Dick Johnson is DeadAndrea Driessen2020-11-23T03:23:00+00:00
You could call it a celebration of life, a living funeral, or a living tribute…Your religion could be organized, or it could be SoulCycle.
In any scenario, you—along with pretty much all of humanity—are trying to forget that at some likely unknown point, you will pass.
But what if you could come more fully alive..bring more intention to your life…by planning and attending your own funeral? A celebration of life that could be the most meaningful party OF your life?
Something in us changes when we dive into reflecting on and telling our own—or someone else’s—life story. I view it as a massive wake-up call, not (just) a funereal wake.
First, a quick definition: What IS the difference between a funeral and a celebration of life?
Most notably, at a celebration of life, the deceased body is not present; there is no burial. Such celebrations tend to be more informal, more personalized, and more uplifting. Less somber and less conventional affairs than funerals.
Now, why should you attend your own funeral?
Knowing we matter—that our lives move the dial on what matters most—lessens regret and inspires us to leave a Greater Legacy. It’s the ultimate ripple effect.
Scientific studiesabout the vagus nerve support how knowing we are seen and heard by important people in our lives can make us feel calm and safe. On the flip side, feeling ignored or dismissed can bring about rageful reactions or mental collapse.
You’ll know in no uncertain terms what’s different and better about the world because YOU are in it! You’ll experience a true-to-life version ofIt’s a Wonderful Life.
You can live with more intention, and leave this world with more peace, less regret and more joy.
Your loved ones will learn more about you, deepen their love, and feel buoyed knowing you’re there to savor it all—together.
The positivity emanating from such gatherings can be deeply healing. Especially if you have a diagnosed terminal illness. And/or feel estranged from anyone.
YOU get to design the scope, vibe and guest list, instead of someone else doing so posthumously.
You as the celebrated, along with all your guests, can be inspired to “get emotional affairs in order.” Heal old wounds. Love more deeply. Fit that baggage more readily in to that overhead bin.
The memories, keepsakes and recordings collected at your celebration generate peace, solace and comfort for you as the celebrant—and for every participant.
Your guests will be inspired to leave A Greater Legacy ™ because of YOUR Greater Legacy.
Here’s a tasty favorite: The Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail. Delicious and strong, this drink is meant for the day after a party, to revive those knocked down by the indulgences of the previous evening. Simple to make and all-too-simple to drink.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 dash absinthe
Shake all ingredients together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish a cherry or orange peel. Live life, REVIVED.
Why you should attend your own funeralAndrea Driessen2021-01-21T23:27:19+00:00
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