This is a show about trying to figure out mortality and accepting our finiteness. Whenever I tell people I have a show about death, very often I am met with a sneer or a grimace. People ask why, at 25, I am thinking about death? Death hasn’t got an age limit: why have put one on talking about it?…I’ve not been quick enough in the moment to come up with this reply so I am saying it now!
I never watched Snoopy as a smaller person than I am now, (I was more of a Lassie kind of girl) but non- the-less I am about to steal a quote from the wise beagle…Charlie Brown and Snoopy are sitting on a peer looking out at some water, it might be a lake or the sea, I’m not sure, Charlie Brown: ‘Some day, we will all die Snoopy!’ Snoopy: ‘True, but on all the other days, we will not.’ This pretty much says it all!
I have been to a few funerals, some of people I loved, others that I didn’t. Each funeral I have been to there has always been a moment. A moment when I suddenly appreciated that I was alive. A moment when I thought: ‘Right, what am I about? What’s important to me? What do I really want to do? Who do I want to be? Right…that’s what I am going to do. And that’s who I am going to be from now on, because I have just remembered that my life will one day be over, like the person everyone is crying about right now.’ In the moment I always mean it. I make a conscious effort to be different that week, and the following and the next, and then the week after that I get a bit distracted, I get stressed about this work thing I have to do and I get irritated at the person that usually irritates and before I know it I have forgotten what I felt like in that moment when I realized that one day people will be standing or sitting or crying at my funeral.
I don’t think talking about death is a taboo. I think talking about death openly, outside of the process of grief and the safety of sadness, is a taboo. I don’t think this is helpful. I don’t think talking about death will make it any less painful when you experience it, be that your own dying process or the death of someone you love, but attempting to accept death is pretty much vital in appreciating what living is about. I think it is simple; it’s just hard to accept how simple it is. Learning How To Die is a show that makes a space to think about ways of accepting the inevitability of death.