Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Watching someone die on TV

Next month, the BBC will screen the last living moments of an 84 year old, Gerald, who died of cancer. Its website suggests that some will find this difficult ['criticize' it]. I'm personally delighted that this is going to happen, in a world where death and attitudes around death are increasingly confused. [Since I wrote this, the BBC has pulled this item from its news, so to read the article, you would have to Google 'Inside the Human Body'. I think the death will be shown in the 2nd episode.]

Since the Second World War, fewer and fewer people have ever seen a dead body, or been present when a person has actually died. As a child, I myself was not given the opportunity to see my grandmother's body before it was taken from our house. I was 12 at the time. So I'm personally grateful that Christian ministry means that I've had countless opportunities to put this right.

And I'm as glad that people will be able to watch someone die, to recognize death as a natural event, and to see that the experience itself is not inherently fearful. If they choose to share the experience with their children, so much the better. Perhaps it will be a small contribution to the battle to avoid turning death into the ultimate taboo, the verb 'die' into the final swear-word in the English language.

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