Episode Description

The Queen’s Death: How To Cope When Someone You Care About Is Dying

As I’m sure we have all recently heard, Queen Elizabeth died. Every media outlet covered it, not hesitating to tell us that many of the royals went to pay their respects right before she passed. I wonder what they said. What does anyone say to someone who is laying on their deathbed? Royal or not, almost all of us will have to deal with the death of a loved one at some point in our lives. How do you treat someone who is about to die? How do you tell them everything you need to before they pass?

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I'm the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. For those of you who don't know, the Journal That Talks Back is a fairly new service specifically for young professionals. So if you know anybody young, I mean between the ages of 18 and let's say early 30s, who might be a candidate for coaching, please send them to The Journal That Talks Back.

But today is The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, featuring my incredible, awesome and amazing daughter Ferne. Ferne, welcome.

[00:00:39] Ferne Kotlyar: Hello! Another really warm welcome. Thank you so much.

[00:00:43] Kim Ades: You're welcome. How's it going?

[00:00:45] Ferne Kotlyar: Good. So big news... Apparently the Queen died. It's been, I heard, I think yesterday, there was something about her being sick and I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. I think the world is a bit shook, but also she was 96.

[00:01:01] Kim Ades: She was 96. Yeah. She lived a long life. She lived a long, productive...

[00:01:09] Ferne Kotlyar: Long life.

[00:01:11] Kim Ades: Majestic life.

[00:01:13] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, absolutely! She reigned for like 70 years, I think.

[00:01:16] Kim Ades: Unbelievable.

[00:01:17] Ferne Kotlyar: Unbelievable. Incredible.

[00:01:19] Kim Ades: And now we have a king.

[00:01:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, insane. So I saw recently in the media that all the Royals were coming in to say their last goodbyes and trying to make it into her room before she passed. And I guess I was wondering, when you have somebody in your life that you know is close to passing, how do you deal with that? How do you cope?

[00:01:46] Kim Ades: What do you mean by "deal"? "How do you deal"?

[00:01:50] Ferne Kotlyar: So, how do you cope, but also how do you figure out what the last words you should say are? What the last things you should do? How do you [00:02:00] handle that person? Like, how do you interact with them? What are you supposed to do? How do you deal with that situation?

[00:02:08] Kim Ades: So, I mean, I think when you know somebody is dying, like, in a way all bets are off, right? Like all the normal convention, all the rules, all the things that we live our lives by that create limitations for us, I think need to go out the window. And I mean, ideally those things could go out the window sooner, but particularly when somebody in your life is dying.

[00:02:33] Ferne Kotlyar: What kind of contentions are you talking about?

[00:02:36] Kim Ades: So there are things we don't like to talk about, there are things we don't like to say. Like, sometimes we're uncomfortable telling somebody else that we love them. Sometimes we're uncomfortable talking about death.

Sometimes we're uncomfortable talking about what does it feel like knowing that you're dying. Like, what are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are you excited about? What are you afraid of? What do you wanna make sure happens before you go? But those conversations need to take place. And those are the conversations we don't typically have.

And so from my standpoint is the minute you find out that somebody important to you is dying, those are the conversations you need to be having, even though they're uncomfortable, even though they're, as you say, morbid, right? Even though they are conversations that we think are taboo in a way, those are the conversations we need to be having, and we need to not be afraid to have those conversations.

[00:03:30] Ferne Kotlyar: Why are they so important?

[00:03:33] Kim Ades: Because I think it's important to understand how a person is experiencing the last moments of their lives and not be afraid to tuning in with them and saying "how are you thinking? How are you feeling? What is this like for you? Is there something you want me to know? Is there something you wanna share?"

"I wanna share with you, this is what you've meant to me. This is the impact you've had on my life. This is what I plan to do after you go. These are the memories I'm gonna [00:04:00] have. These are the things I'm gonna pass along to the people that I love that I learned or gained from you". Right?

So Allan had an aunt and she was dying, she had cancer, she knew she was dying and she didn't go around jumping up and down saying "I'm dying, I'm dying, I'm dying", but she did something that really, really struck me. She had a two day drop in event.

And so it was over the weekend, so it was Saturday and Sunday, and she invited everybody to drop into her house at any point during those two days. She made a bit of a spread, she had cakes and coffees and cookies and tea and all of that kind of stuff, and people came just to sit with her, just to be with her.

The thing is that, had she been a little bit more descript about what the purpose of this was, would've been a little bit better. Yeah, but what she did was she understood "some of these people I'm gonna be seeing and spending time with for the last time, so I'm opening up my door for everybody to come and spend time with me".

And I really, really love that because what happens is that people die and then there's a funeral, and then people get up and say eulogies and say all the things and the thoughts and how important and valuable and meaningful this person was, and the person never hears it.

[00:05:24] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:05:24] Kim Ades: You know, what would it be like if we had that event before a person dies?

[00:05:29] Ferne Kotlyar: Well, we don't always know when someone's gonna die.

[00:05:31] Kim Ades: No, but if we do. And so what we wanna do is we wanna make sure that the last moments are meaningful for us and for them. And that they're not morbid, they could be fun! We could replay experiences or memories that were fun and funny. We could spend time together watching a show or doing some fun things. It doesn't have to be [00:06:00] a sad, depressing ending.

[00:06:04] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:06:06] Kim Ades: Yeah. But I think the most important thing is we need to open up this conversation. We're always so afraid to talk about death. And the crazy part of it is nobody escapes.

[00:06:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, not even the queen.

[00:06:22] Kim Ades: Not even the queen. So not everybody goes through divorce, but we talk about divorce, quite openly. People talk about divorce all the time--

[00:06:30] Ferne Kotlyar: Because people move on. People don't move on from death. I mean, you're dead, you don't--

[00:06:34] Kim Ades: We don't know that though. I saw your face.

[00:06:38] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]

[00:06:39] Kim Ades: [Chuckles] Right? So we die--

[00:06:40] Ferne Kotlyar: They don't come back in the same form.

[00:06:42] Kim Ades: No, they don't come back in the same form, but our bodies die, but we don't know if our essence dies. Some people think it continues. Some people think that there's life after death, we don't really know. But my point is divorce doesn't happen to everyone, we talk about it. Death happens to everyone and we don't talk about it!

[00:07:02] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles lightly] I guess some people talk about it.

[00:07:05] Kim Ades: We talk more about our vacations!

[00:07:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, 'cause it's more fun.

[00:07:10] Kim Ades: But we don't know. And the point is it's an experience that's worth discussing. It's an experience that's important for us to discuss without so much fear and discomfort.

[00:07:22] Ferne Kotlyar: What do you think everyone's afraid of?

[00:07:25] Kim Ades: Well, they're afraid of the pain associated with death.

[00:07:30] Ferne Kotlyar: Okay, but I'm sure they're afraid of more than that. We are afraid of more than that.

[00:07:34] Kim Ades: What else do you think they're afraid of?

[00:07:36] Ferne Kotlyar: The unknown, the loss, leaving people behind.

[00:07:39] Kim Ades: Yeah, but all that sounds like pain.

[00:07:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Afraid of not doing enough. Yeah, but they're different kinds of pain.

[00:07:48] Kim Ades: Afraid of not doing enough in your lifetime, that also sounds like a painful thought.

[00:07:54] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:07:55] Kim Ades: A painful physical death, a painful... Leaving someone behind, the [00:08:00] loss.

[00:08:00] Ferne Kotlyar: So, yeah, that sounds like, are those not good reasons to not wanna talk about it?

[00:08:04] Kim Ades: Well, I think they're good reasons to talk about it.

[00:08:09] Ferne Kotlyar: And what about you? Are you not afraid of all these things?

[00:08:14] Kim Ades: Yes, but I think I would be less afraid if I spoke about it. You know, we talk about death often. We talk about what the funeral should be like, but that's just a moment in time, right? I joke with Allan all the time and I say, "if I die first..." But he's gonna die first, but that's not the point... If I die first--

[00:08:35] Ferne Kotlyar: What? Why would he die first?

[00:08:37] Kim Ades: Because he's a man and he's older and I'm healthier. But anyway, that's not the point. [Chuckles] That's not the point.

[00:08:43] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]

[00:08:43] Kim Ades: If I die first and, God willing, we both live a very, very long time... But if I die first, I'm gonna come in through the television screen and tell him to shut it off and go do something instead of watching TV.

And we joke. We joke about the fact that I'm gonna show up after I die and make sure he's taking care of himself and doing fun things and not just sitting and watching TV. But we don't talk about death because we're so afraid of the concept.

[00:09:17] Ferne Kotlyar: You're saying the concept would be a little less scary if we talked about it more.

[00:09:20] Kim Ades: Yes! The concept would be less scary if we talked about it more, if we didn't feel like it was so, you know, such a topic that was so illicit. We talk more about pornography than we do about death.

[00:09:41] Ferne Kotlyar: Depends.

[00:09:42] Kim Ades: [Laughs] But everyone's gonna die.

[00:09:49] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:09:49] Kim Ades: Every single person's gonna die. So here's a question for you. How do you think... What makes it easier... This is a better way to say it. What makes it easier [00:10:00] to cope after someone important in your life has passed away?

[00:10:08] Ferne Kotlyar: I guess hearing stories about them, surrounding yourself with people that love you, people that love them as well, that have connections to that person, so you can do that together. I think, for me, distracting myself, doing something else.

[00:10:26] Kim Ades: Yeah. But I think one of the things you said is really, really right on the money. When my parents died, the thing I wanted more than anything was for people who knew my parents to come in, tell me stories about my parents, experiences they had with my parents.

[00:10:45] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:10:46] Kim Ades: Interesting interactions, how my parents impacted their lives. And I found that I got very few stories, and every story that I got just meant so much to me, just mattered so much, it left such a mark for me, but it brought me such comfort. So that is definitely a part that helps.

The other part that helps is being able to talk about the people you love and how they showed up in various ways, the memories they left for you, but also the impact they had or the ways that they influenced your life.

Even if it was just, you know, like, "Hey, my mom used to make all this food, this kind of food. And this is something that I've brought along in my life with me. This is something I'm passing along to you", which is clearly an issue, right? In our world. [Laughs]

[00:11:39] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs] So much food.

[00:11:40] Kim Ades: Yeah, there's a lot of food discussion. But... Basking in the memories is a good thing. It's not a terrible thing.

[00:11:52] Ferne Kotlyar: Absolutely. I guess--

[00:11:55] Kim Ades: You know, I think one of the things that makes it very hard for people to cope [00:12:00] with death is thinking that it should have never happened, thinking that it's a bad, terrible, horrible, awful thing.

[00:12:13] Ferne Kotlyar: I think there's this feeling of permanence associated with it. I mean, it is permanent. You don't get that person back. You can't have another conversation. So, for me, that permanence is really scary, because what if you didn't tell them enough, you weren't kind enough? You didn't... Whatever, you know, give them enough gifts, whatever it is.

[00:12:34] Kim Ades: Yeah.

[00:12:34] Ferne Kotlyar: There's no chance of going back, or fixing that relationship or whatever it is, it's done. And I think that's also part of what's scary about it, of someone else dying. I mean, you as well, but...

[00:12:49] Kim Ades: So I mean, one of the things you wanna do is live your life according to your values and make sure you're doing all the things with all the people that really really matter to you. So it's being clear about what your priorities are, and making sure you're giving, whoever that person is or whoever those people are, the love, the attention, the respect, the affection, that is the fitting of that relationship.

But the other part of it is, you know, you talk about permanence, that the end is the end, but it's not really the end because you continue a relationship with someone after they're gone.

[00:13:26] Ferne Kotlyar: How?

[00:13:27] Kim Ades: You continue thinking about them, you continue remembering them, you continue talking to them in your head, you continue wondering how they would handle something or what they would do. So it's not the end, really. It's the end in a physical sense, but it's not the end.

[00:13:44] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, but it's the end of a two-way relationship.

[00:13:48] Kim Ades: It's the end of a two-way relationship that you're aware of.

I mean, I understand that your relationship to them can change because they're [00:14:00] still kind of a present being in your head space, but you can't do things with them anymore.

You can't pick up the phone and talk to them.

[00:14:08] Ferne Kotlyar: No, and you can't go on a bike ride with them, or have a meal with them or whatever, you can't taste their food anymore. They're gone. So I understand that your interpretation of them can change, but to a lot of things missing, like, especially losing a partner, you know? Like your whole life revolves around them, you spend most of your time with them. And that is huge to have them gone. Everything about your life changes.

[00:14:39] Kim Ades: Yeah, everything about your life changes.

[00:14:42] Ferne Kotlyar: So, yeah, that's scary. I mean, I get that...

[00:14:46] Kim Ades: Yeah, and part of what makes it harder or more painful is the thought that this should not have happened. "This should not be. Things should be different than they are". When we feel like things should be different than they are, that's an experience of resistance and that creates pain. So a huge part of coping with death is accepting that it has happened, accepting that there's a change, accepting that we need to experience life a little differently now.

[00:15:26] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, and that they would've-- like, they're gonna die at some point, everyone dies.

[00:15:32] Kim Ades: Everyone dies. Are they gonna be and would they be happy for you if you were sad for a long, long time? No. Would they be happy knowing you're suffering and in pain over the loss? No.

[00:15:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:15:47] Kim Ades: Would they be happy knowing that you're remembering them with fond memories? Yes! Right? Would they be happy knowing that you are teaching your kids some of the lessons they taught you? Yes! [00:16:00] They'd be like in the corner cheering you on as a ghost, right?

[00:16:05] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:16:06] Kim Ades: So I think it's very important for us to not forget a person, for us to take that person in all the wonderful, awesome characteristics and carry it along with us. But I also think it's important to accept the change in status.

[00:16:23] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. So tell me--

[00:16:25] Kim Ades: And not resist it.

[00:16:28] Ferne Kotlyar: Tell me something. When you pass, how are you gonna appear in the world for me?

[00:16:34] Kim Ades: What do you mean? Oh, I'm gonna appear in your kitchen, of course. You're gonna open the fridge and you're gonna hear me saying "you need to go buy groceries. There's not enough stuff in your fridge". [Laughs]

[00:16:46] Ferne Kotlyar: "Make it double!"

[00:16:47] Kim Ades: [Laughs] Make it double. I'm gonna come out of your fridge and say, "Hey, maybe you should have some chicken now". [Laughs]

[00:16:56] Ferne Kotlyar: [Chuckles]

[00:16:57] Kim Ades: I'm gonna appear in lots and lots of places. And I'm just joking right now, right? But when you raise your kids, you're gonna hear me in your voice.

[00:17:08] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah.

[00:17:08] Kim Ades: When you give your children advice, you're gonna say, "wow, that was the same advice my mom gave me". When you go for a walk and you see somebody who needs help, you're gonna go help them because you know that that's how we were brought up, you were brought up, right? When you have a fight with your husband, you're gonna know how to recover from the fight.

[00:17:36] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, you're already in my head. Don't worry.

[00:17:38] Kim Ades: Right? I'm already in your head. So I'm already there without being there. We're not living in the same space and I'm there, whether you like it or not. Sometimes even if I don't like it, I'm there. [Chuckles]

[00:17:51] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah. Why wouldn't you like it?

[00:17:52] Kim Ades: Because I think you think "what's mom gonna say?" And you try to circumvent or you kind of like [00:18:00] worry about what I think, and I don't want you to worry about what I think. I want you to live your life happily.

[00:18:06] Ferne Kotlyar: Yeah, thanks.

[00:18:08] Kim Ades: Yeah. All right.

[00:18:09] Ferne Kotlyar: All right, well, thank you.

[00:18:11] Kim Ades: So what was your takeaway from today's conversation?

[00:18:14] Ferne Kotlyar: I guess that we need to talk about death more.

[00:18:17] Kim Ades: We need to talk about death more. Great.

[00:18:19] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]

[00:18:20] Kim Ades: For those of you who are listening, if you wanna talk about death more, please reach out to us. We'd love to talk about death with you.

[00:18:27] Ferne Kotlyar: [Laughs]

[00:18:27] Kim Ades: And we hope you got something of value of today's call, but we'd love to hear from you, love to hear what you think, love to hear your thoughts about death and your experiences with that as well, whether somebody in your life has died, whether you're concerned about it, worried about it, fearful, we'd love to hear from you. How do people reach you, Ferne?

[00:18:47] Ferne Kotlyar: Please email me! My email address is Fernekotlyar@live.com.

[00:18:52] Kim Ades: And my email address is Kim@frameofmindcoaching.com. We will see you next week. In the meantime, what did they say? Hail to the queen? What's the expression?

[00:19:03] Ferne Kotlyar: Long live the Queen?

[00:19:04] Kim Ades: Long-- Well, the Queen isn't living anymore, so... We wish the Queen and her family all the best and we are very thankful for her reign and her service here. How's that?

[00:19:20] Ferne Kotlyar: Perfect. Love it.

[00:19:21] Kim Ades: Okay. Have a good one, everyone.

[00:19:23] Ferne Kotlyar: Bye!