Taking the Sting out of Death

The former head of the Anglican Church in Scotland, Richard Holloway has a gimlet eye when it comes to staring death in the face. And he certainly did not pull his punches when being interviewed by Joan Bakewell at the Hay Festival today. 

Talking about when his own death approaches he said, “I would like to be in control and be able to say goodbye to the people I love.”  He firmly believes in the practice of dying at home, ideally surrounded by loved ones.

He wonders whether death has been ‘medicalised’ so that too many people are kept alive by a range of interventions prolonging existence, but not necessarily quality of life. “Why be kept alive beyond the point of happiness?” he asked.

His book Waiting for the last Bus aims to take the anguish out of dying and normalise the process.

He advised that as everyone will die, death should be thought about and not avoided as a subject of conversation and reflection. During his time as a Bishop he saw his role as consoling those facing death whatever their belief system.

Now in his eighties he fully realises that time is a precious commodity and intends to use the time left to him wisely.

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