End-of-life trainer Stephen Garrett said it was the death of his sister at the age of 33 that inspired him to think about the way North America handles death and dying.
“I used to be a stock broker,” said Garrett who will be in Williams Lake this week giving workshops.
“Jen passed away in 1988. She was much younger than me and was a compassionate, generous loving woman and at the time I was a money-making machine.”
It made no sense that she died and he was left on the planet, he recalled.
He went through a process of asking questions, quit his career, and became a social worker and has followed that path of service ever since.
Contrary to popular belief, death is not the mortal enemy, he said.
“It is a fundamental and important aspect of life that we’ve corporatized, medicalized and mystified, much to our own loss,” he explained. “Death is a summit that’s important to our growth as human beings and for inspiration to live passionate lives.”
In a way he’s trying to bring death back to life, he suggested.
“This grim reaper notion is an error and a myth. I’ve looked all over the world for the grim reaper and he does not exist. It’s an ideology or a mythology we’ve made up to our own detriment.”
The statistics on end-of-life preparation are shocking, he added.
“We spend more than half of our medical budget on five per cent of the people in the last 10 months of their life,” Garrett said as an example of fighting death at all cost. And the costs aren’t just financial, they are emotional, mental and spiritual.
North American society has moved a long way from the day when a grandpa lay on the kitchen table and his family would bathe his body, dress him and place him in a casket they’d built, he said.
Garrett will be appearing as a guest author at the library on Thursday, March 26, and leading workshops at Signal Point on Saturday, March 28, and Seniors Activity Centre on March 29.