The journey begins, not ends, here.
Do you fear your death?
If you do, at some level it will affect your ability to appreciate your life to the fullest.
Death is a subject that most people do not like to hear about, talk about, or even think about. Why is this? After all, whether we like it or not, each and every one of us will have to die one day. And even before we have to face our own death, we will most probably have to face the deaths of other people— our family members, friends, colleagues. Death is a reality, a fact of life, so wouldn’t it be better to approach it with openness and acceptance, rather than fear and denial?
You are never too young to contemplate your death. You are never too old to really live.
My name is Graham West
I am a qualified funeral director with over thirty years of experience. I have been involved in bereavement support facilities for fifteen years. I would like you to know, if you do not already, that it is possible to live a fuller life by having a greater understanding of mortality, and little fear of dying. This is the mission of Befriending Death.
Whatever I undertake in my mission to help people befriend their death, whether it be planning your own end of life care or funeral, should it be looking at the manner of death and the process that dying takes us through, or we may examine bereavement effects and methods of support. In all these things I maintain one underlying, basic aim.
My aim is that everything I do eventually becomes LIFE affirming.
” You only live once. But if you get it right, once is enough”
What do we mean by ‘befriending’ death?
This trailer from the Netflix short documentary, ‘End Game’, in which a doctor explains the concept to a terminally ill patient.
Befriending death is something that any of us can do, but when is the best time in life to start? Those coming to the end of their life, particularly those who are terminally ill, inevitably have to go through the process of coming to terms with their situation. But would it not be better to start this process much earlier in life, at a time when we can explore our mortality with the time and space conducive to building as healthy a relationship with death that we can.
“I think then that our first task is to befriend death. I like that expression “to befriend”. I first heard it used by a Jungian analyst James Hillman when he attended a seminar I taught on Christian Spirituality at Yale Divinity School. He emphasised the importance of “Befriending”: befriending your dreams, befriending your shadow, befriending your unconscious. He made it convincingly clear that in order to become full human beings, we have to claim the totality of our experience; we come to maturity by integrating not only the light but also the dark side of our story into selfhood.
…..And isn’t death, the frightening unknown that lurks in the depths of our unconscious minds, like a great shadow that we perceive only dimly in our dreams? Befriending death seems to be the basis of all other forms of befriending”. Henri Nouwen.
If you entered this site thinking that befriending death involved a slow downward spiral into the acceptance of the inevitable, a surrender to our lives gradually slowing down and our enthusiasm and energy slowly seeping away, I hope I can prove you wrong. The sub script to the title of befriending death is – How to live better by knowing death better. The promise is, that by understanding and accepting death, by surrendering our fear of dying we can be free to appreciate life more fully and be inspired to live our lives more fully.
We then learn how to accept death with dignity, peace and tranquillity.
Make death your companion, not your destination.