How to have a good death

Mon 5th – Sun 11th (Mother’s Day) March 2018

Death (flower)

It has been an intense week. Primarily because one of the two old chaps in Brighton I keep an eye on has moved into a nursing home and will remain there until he dies which may not be long. Things have moved quickly. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few weeks ago and was being looked after in his own flat.

Last week I could not get hold of him

All last week I tried the hospital, the hospice, and social services. Long phone waits to be told as I am not a relative so they can’t tell me anything. He has no family apart from a distant elderly cousin and he has lost the ability to talk. On Fri he was discovered in his flat basically in a serious condition and had been like that for a week. So all for the best that nobody breached ‘confidentiality’ (I’m being sarcastic). He was immediately sent to a nursing home where he can be better cared for.

Intense Saturday in the nursing home and at his flat

Dying lionSaturday morning I went down to Brighton to see him in the home. It’s a nice one and he is comfortable. As his only real friend, he then gave me the key to his flat to go and get some stuff plus tidy things up and to let his neighbours know the news.

The flat was pretty grim and I set about cleaning things up. His neighbours are lovely and one offered to wash a big bag of very grim washing to take up for him.

Tired lionBack in the afternoon to the home to sit with him and give him his things particularly his own clothes and the pictures of his beloved dead dog. We also made a list of things for me to bring next week.

Basically I am going to go to Brighton each weekend to do clearing up, tidying and sorting at his flat before I go and see him. He particularly wants some of his paintings and pictures to put on the walls of his new room.

What is to be taken from this?

flat art from MadeiraI’m not a relative, just a friend – the same relationship to my other old chap in his wheelchair in another nursing home. But these are guys I met 25 years ago who were fit and healthy, not far from mine and Dave’s age now. Neither had close family nor masses of friends. And, indeed, as we get older our friends do as well. I look after these two men because someone has to and I hope there is karma – what I do for them, one day someone might do for me.

Preparing for death

A black crowIt is really important that we all remember death is inevitable and aren’t afraid to prepare for it both emotionally, spiritually, and practically. Enjoy life totally – but this all ends one day and it is important to bear that in mind plus think how we want it to end.

I think there is something about creating and nurturing networks plus not putting our hopes into objects and things. You really can’t take them with you and they become just clutter for someone else to sort out. It is strange to know how many people resist the idea of going into a home but some are great and perhaps part of our thinking should be doing more work to make sure this is sorted for us.

What death personally means to me

Death (skull)

I don’t want to die but I’m not scared of death. Indeed, living through AIDS, many people I knew died of the disease though I also had friends who committed suicide and were murdered. I fainted recently and it was actually a very peaceful experience.

Perhaps there is an after-life, perhaps there isn’t. It doesn’t really matter. We need to do the best we can why we are here. My main fear is never again seeing or being with the people I love.

Mother’s Day (and International Women’s Day)

A good Saturday night meal and catch-up

I travelled back from Brighton to see mum on Sat evening. My brother was at his girlfriend’s so it was just the two of us. Sat was intense (and expensive – train, buses, Ubers). I had planned to take mum out for lunch on Sun – probably along with the rest of the world. I asked her if we could go out on Sat night instead, and that is what we did. We went for a local curry and had a nice catch-up chat. Sun I wanted the day on my own just to chill, unwind, catch-up. And I think she actually wanted the same (no doggie for her to look after that day). For her, a day of relaxing and pottering without having to worry about anyone else.

Dave and time on my own

Dave went up to see his mum on Sat morning and won’t be back till Tues. πŸ™ Then he’s off to Spain for a week to see his friends David and Gordon. I was supposed to go with him as part of my sabbatical but I’m working now and I simply have used up most of my leave. So Sun gave me the opportunity to really be by myself.

Digital Impact Awards

progress being madeOne of the other highlights of last week was this event on Wed. Digital AgendaΒ and the Digital Impact Awards have both been created by Julian Blake. It’s a great example of what one individual with a vision can achieve.

In only their second year, the Awards celebrate the use of tech to achieve beneficial social change – tech for good basically. We met in trendy Bethnal Green and it was a brilliantly attended event. Albeit the room was quite warm and we started at 3pm but it was still going on when I left at 8.30pm.

Particular highlights:

  • Some much deserved award winners including Bethnal Green Ventures, Citizen’s Advice, SH 24, Olio, What3Words. These I know plus some winners who I really need to find out more about.
  • Catching up with Dr Simon Davey and the crew from Cass Business School / Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness who invited me to attend the Awards as their guest. A good conversation next day with Mark Salway their Director of Social Finance about all things social investment.
  • Checking in with all my colleagues at Nominet Trust who were the main sponsors of the Awards and are going through big changes. Also seeing Eve Joseph from Microsoft who I haven’t seen for ages (we need a catch-up coffee).
  • Delight at the popular vote award for the excellent young people’s mental health app TalkLife. Really good to see founder Jamie Druitt there. Much deserved award and another catch-up coffee that is needed.
  • Great to see our Tech for Good grants programme joint-funder Paul Hamlyn Foundation having a high profile at the Awards and their new found enthusiasm for tech.

Linking up two good people

One of my best moments at the awards was seeing Mark Walker and his crew there who run the Tech4Good Awards. These were launched last Mon and I couldn’t be at the launch at BT Tower because of another meeting. We are running the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award again this year; details here –Β  please encourage applications! πŸ™‚

What was great at the Impact Awards was to introduce Mark to the organiser Julian. Their Awards are similar and complimentary without needing to compete. They both raise the profile of tech for good. Neither had met before. Hopefully it’s the start of a beautiful new relationship. What freaked some of us was also realising how similar they both look – a real case of ‘separated at birth’?

Tech4Good Awards

Other work-related stuff of note

  • Catching up with Cassie Robinson of DotEveryOne on Mon
  • Meeting like-minded people at the ‘Funders who tech’ meeting on Mon (why I had to miss the Tech4Good Awards’ launch)
  • A useful sessions with Jo and Jeremy at Big Society Capital about suitable managed funds to invest in
  • Second interviews for the Social Investment Senior Advisor role – fingers crossed the new man willΒ  start by May
  • Feeding back to the unsuccessful interviewees for this post. Not the most pleasant thing to do but all were nice people to talk to. I really think this is something that should be offered to all interviewees.
  • Catching up with new colleagues working in the Corporate and Partnerships department to talk about the funding partnerships we are involved with; aim = to make the relationships even better. πŸ™‚
  • 1:1s with my excellent team members Jen and Beth. It’s a pleasure to work with such clever, energetic, and committed people.
  • Talking internally about what we will be doing to celebrate the Commonwealth during the Commonwealth Games and CHOGM – C0mmonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
  • Starting discussions on next year’s budgets

Nelson Mandela quotation

Health and Efficiency

Good and bad

Health and efficiency magazine coverGood in that I got to the gym twice. Bad in that the weekend went to pot. Gym on Tues and Thurs morning. Treadmill and weights on the former, simply a long weights session on the latter primarily because I am worrying too regular treadmill sessions are aggravating my joints and muscles (the joys of getting older πŸ™ ). But then things weren’t so good at the weekend.

Sat was a write-off with the intensity of my day in Brighton. Sun I had planned to do a gym session or jog-run before lunch with mum. Instead I decided to have a day to myself devoted to getting my blog done and sorting emails so I feel more in control of things. I suppose it was a reflection that mental health is as important as physical.

Fat

Weight is an ongoing disaster. I’m still roughly around 14 stone and 4 pounds. Strangely whenever I see Bob and Brian, the first thing they both mention is how much weight I have put on – FFS! Should I just give up or still try some attempt at trying to lose weight? Perhaps it is like quitting smoking – never stop trying to stop.

Personal Development

I’m pretty sure I feel it’s a good week when I’m on top of all my personal development aims. In that sense, last week wasn’t a good one. And why not? Simply lack of time though is that perhaps really lack of prioritisation?

Duolingo

Language learning was attained on only 3 days. Both times it was in bed before I went to sleep. Trying to make this a routine but sometimes I’m just too tired to do anything.

Coding practice

Another big fat zero. But I ain’t going to give up on this. I’m never going to be a programmer, I just want to understand it all a bit more.

Emails

The sheer volume on undealt with ones went wobbly during the week. Funny how just one busy day & evening where I’m not tending my emails sends them over the top. But Sun especially meant catch-up; all part of my day creating peace with myself. One tip if you do feel your emails are overwhelming you. Sort them alphabetically rather than by date, pick a letter at random then start deleting all the old ones that are now out of date and useless. You know those ones you kept just because they might be useful one day… πŸ™‚

Daisy & Jamie

Not really personal development but good, as always, to check in with friends. Mon evening I met up with my old mate David, known as Daisy. Then on Fri I had coffee with my mate Jamie to learn about his holidays and plays. He is so good at ensuring we keep in contact – I should learn from that.

Books and Reading

‘The Graveyard of the Hesperides’

Another novel by Lindsey Davis, and the follow-on to ‘Deadly Election’ which I read recently and very much enjoyed. The author is excellent particularly in the way in this book she inter-weaves so much authentic ‘normal’ life in ancient Rome. So that we realise the lives and issues of people then are pretty similar to ours of today. In this way, Lindsey Davis really should be put alongside the brilliant historian Mary Beard.

The story itself is well-done, combining the build-up to and details of a Roman wedding alongside the investigation of a crime. Not a high-powered political murder but simple low-life thuggery hidden by the ‘local community’. I think my only real criticism is the ending. It’s all very dramatic the way the criminals are dealt with almost by divine intervention. Perhaps she simply wasn’t sure how to end it all…

The Week Ahead

Perhaps less intense than last week especially if no unexpected drama:

  • We’ve got two internal workshops to help decide where we focus our energy and resources in the future – all day Mon and Fri.
  • Attending 2 NESTA events. First on Tues about how funders with endowments and investments should be using those to deliver more social benefits. I don’t actually work on Tues but this will count for me taking next Mon morning off. Then on Wed to talk about Digital Social Innovation – basically tech for good.
  • Wed is a busy work day with the NESTA meeting followed by my team meeting, catch-up on crowdfunding, 1:1 with the boss, and Kathy Peach from Bond is coming to run a workshop! Plus I will catch up with my job-share Dilhani back from her yoga retreat. Hopefully she’s not too chilled out. πŸ™‚
  • Gym two times – Tues & Thurs mornings are the plan. Sat morning, hopefully a jog-run (or gym).
  • Back down to Brighton on Sun to visit the nursing home as well as carry on sorting out and cleaning the flat. I’m staying over to come back Mon morning so should be meeting up with Rob (Swing It) for dinner Sun night.
  • Keep on keeping on with Duolingo, coding practice, and emails
  • Going to finish my current book by the ever brilliant Susan Hill and hopefully complete a new one
  • Meeting my old mate Dom on Thurs evening
  • Dave is back from his mum’s on Tues πŸ™‚ but then off to Spain on Thurs πŸ™

And Finally…

Still good

Cock fight

 

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