Celebration and death

Below is a speech that I gave at my 30th birthday party in September 2015. Over the preceeding months I had been on a training placement in a paliative care and oncology service and I had lost my two remain grandparents within a few months of one another. I’d thought alot about death and found Irvin Yalom’s ‘Staring at the Sun’ provided some much needed guidance. At the same time, my sister was about to give birth to the first of our family’s next generation, which it was a time of transtion for many reasons. So, at my birthday, I decided to talk to my friends and family about death so that we might apprecaite the celebration even more. Here is what I said:

‘Whilst I have you here, I wanted to talk about death.

Recently, confronting ideas about death has changed how I will live my life. As some of you are aware, I’ve been thinking alot about death lately and as cliché as it sounds, I’ve come to understand that we owe it to ourselves to live life in the moment, trying our best to cherish what will eventually pass. This transiency is the reason why we should embrace, with more passion than ever before, the beauty of things that will eventually leave us. This year I lost two grandparents and I’m humbled by how their influence ripples though the everyday interactions that I have with my family and friends. I’m more aware than ever of the preciousness of time spend with the people that I love.

I have been greatful for the opportunities that I have had throughout my life. Thank you for being there, for travelling, learning, working, laughing, dancing and showing empathy when times are hard in work and life. For offering patience for the times that I realised how psychologists can be manipulative, ’emotional prosititutes’ and for allowing me to talk about erotic transference. I am more grateful than I could ever describe.

Thank you especially to my mum and dad who consistently do all that they can for me and my sisters. I wouldn’t be here without you. I mean, I literally wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t have achieved all that you laid the foundation for. My sister is due to give birth at any moment and I can’t wait to meet the newest nember of our family.

I’m excited for the future, thinking about the coming years. I hope to develop as a person alongside you all. To share in the great and the difficut times. To met the people that we’re yet to meet and do all of the things we’re yet to do. To show compassion to others, to experience the privilege of being part of all of your stories. I would like to raise a toast to you all. Thank you for coming, tonight’



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