You might think no one in their 30s needs a plan for the end of their life. I wonder, do you think they should have a plan for their health-filled super longevity, to meet contemporary needs around life and death?
Ruby Lohman of Death Dinner Party remarked that Peter Xing (transhumanist and AI enthusiast) and I, speakers at a recent Melbourne Death Dinner Party, each opened up questions about radically different issues and options.
This made for incredible conversations over a fine dinner in an enchanted place, Kinfolk Cafe. The venue suggested fairy tales and old wizened ladies peeking in, rather than a world where we’re going to cure the causes of ageing. For Peter Xing, it’s important that we challenge the normative idea that we’re born, live out a life and die. For him it’s a waste of human experience to have people die. Ending death means we don’t have to leave one’s important people and interests behind. Curing death would spare pain and suffering for family and friends.
In her interview with me, Ruby asked what made me want to be an end of life consultant. Like Peter I want to help people spare their relatives and friends unnecessary pain and suffering. Fresh and relevant arrangements for end of life can make a difference and so can having a plan in place that reflects a person’s values.
Why does it matter whether or not we plan for the end of our life? she asked.
I told the story of a young widow I heard speak at a conference last year, who together with her husband made a plan for the end of their lives when they married, encouraged by their minister. Sadly she did need that plan, and it helped her navigate a very difficult time of her life.
So a plan matters for our partner, for our family. It matters for our friends. It may be hard to consider, but it’s just so worth it. None of us want to make it any more difficult for close people struggling with grief, when we could make it easier for them. They could be much less stretched at a very difficult time.
Who is the funeral for, you or your friends and family? Ben in the audience asked.
It’s for the family. It’s for the friends. But by making some choices in advance they would have a lovely starting point, an essence that would infuse a ritual with you.
What if friends and family don’t want to talk? asked Jess.
Try talking about a movie, an episode of a drama, a story that’s got you thinking. Ask if they’ve considered some of the things it sparked for you. Get their views on the topic of your digital legacy, and go from there.
I’ve written a book on these topics and can’t wait for it to be available, but for now here’s a link to my resources page.
Reflecting on Death Dinner Party, and Peter Xing’s amazing talk, I don’t think bio-hacking, whether through genetic editing or drugs for life extension is for me. But Google sees human biology as information, and has recently acquired numerous AI companies. So it was awesome to have someone as super smart as Peter encouraging us to think more about what it means to democratise these technologies for extended healthy life.
As Ben left he thanked me and said he’s definitely going to write a will. A win for a plan for the end of our lives!