So last night (July 1st 2014) RTE (I believe in association with the Irish Hospice Foundation) showcased a documentary on death, dying, loss, grief and the Irish.
I was very excited to see this documentary, albeit a little frustrated that I didn't get interviewed or asked my opinion or to participate in any way shape of form. As someone who has been a point of contact for many of the papers and radio djs when it comes to the subject of death and considering how much of a spotlight I have put on the subject with my book, my blog, the press received and my approach to it on social media - I really think having a completely independent (of any supplier) young person give their take on preplanning would have added substantially to the documentary but then this is RTE we are talking about here.
As I have said time and time again, in Ireland, historically, we dealt with death quite well - in fact we are world renowned for our wakes but in the last couple of decades we seem to have lost this fantastic 'celebration of life' in favour of a more demure and sad 'mourning of a death'.
The Irish Hospice Foundation do fantastic work and when I needed some questions answered at the time of my book (Say Farewell, Your Way) writing, they obliged. I (very clearly) have an avid interest in Funerals and Funeral Planning and I had hoped this documentary would start a conversation on twitter, on facebook, online in general and around the dinner table. I think it will start SOME conversations for sure and if it does that, then it has succeeded. But what I saw (and I could be wrong) was merely people like me and the IHF and people who worked for the IHF and in the death industry talking online. This was, for me, sad to see. It shows that we still have a way to go to get the Irish talking openly about death, dying and loss.
My other 'grip' as such with the show was the TYPICAL Irish media personas that appeared throughout and even the fact that Norah Casey presented it. Now I liked Norah on the Dragons Den (so much so I approached her outside it with the original Funeral Planning idea) but with most Irish Celebrities her 'brand' has been diluted so much that she doesn't necessarily bring anything to a show anymore. I know this might sound harsh because I understand why she was involved in the show and from that point, interviewing her ON the show would have been imperative but for her to present the show did not make sense to me. Then there was the scattering of Irish celebrities throughout.....personally I enjoyed the real-life 'nobody' stories alot better. That lady Noreen was fantastic - more airtime for her please.
All in all I am delighted the show presented this topic to the public in such a way and at a vital air time (although the world cup games may have filtered a little). We NEED to talk about death openly, honestly and more often. It WILL happen to all of us at some stage and so lets put into place as much of a plan as we possibly can to make that easier on us and our loved ones. I really hope to see more shows like this in the future.