Chris' story: getting on, not moving on
Rather than moving on after a loved one died, what if you thought about getting on? That's how Chris has been thinking about life after his late wife, Kate, died in 2016. Chris and Kate always believed that whatever cards you've been dealt in life, you have to play them as best you can. For them, that meant having some difficult conversations earlier than they could have ever imagined. But talking about death meant they knew what was important to each other about living and dying, as well as what life for Chris might look like after Kate died.
Welcome to Chris' story.
Hosted by: Sam Meikle
Produced by: Spark the Difference
Here’s what Chris shares in this conversation:
00:09 These conversations are all real and can sometimes be a bit raw. You can always pause and take a break for a bit.
04:12 Remembering how Chris' family came together for each other when his Granddad died
07:02 There will always be elements of grief, sadness and reflection, but also happiness for the times you had with them
09:48 We're all different humans and there's no one right way to think, feel or talk about death
11:30 Chris reflects that preparing for a death when you know it's going to happen, can be easier than a sudden death
14:04 Chris remembers listening to Kate talk about death through her work as a doctor, before she was ill
15:56 The first conversation Chris had with Kate about her plans for death
17:58 How having a dark sense of humour about death helped Chris and Kate
18:54 Nine times of out ten, conversations about death were started by Kate
21:13 Chris shares some ideas for starting to talk about death, such as: "have you got a will?"
26:19 Highly recommended: having a Bucket List to help you focus on doing things that are important to you
30:19 How Chris' Bucket List helps him think about life now
33:13 Each of us can have an impact on other people's lives
35:36 The #hellomynameis campaign: it’s about two humans beings talking to each other
39:00 Life after death: getting on rather than moving on
45:16 You might only get one chance to have that conversation. So make sure you have that conversation.
A note on looking after ourselves: these conversations are all real and can feel a little raw. If you’re struggling with the content that we’re talking about, please seek support. This might be from a trusted family member or friend. The Samaritans Team are always available to talk and you can contact them on 116 123.
The full transcript
(Sam) To start with, where is your accent from?
(Chris) My accent is from Yorkshire, in the UK. Very proud to be from Yorkshire. It's an amazing part of the world. I recommend to anyone to come and visit Yorkshire.
What's great about it?
You've got so many different aspects of Yorkshire. You've got the rolling hills, you've got the major cities and it's a place that I call home. Obviously it’s where I’m from, but it's got so many different things that people will all be able to interact with. It's got the history behind it and it's got amazing people.
Whenever I come up here, there's something about the expansiveness of walking along the moors, the little trails or the mills and the valleys. There's nothing else like it.
No, I don't think there is. I've been fortunate enough to have travelled a lot around the world and across the UK. And yes, the UK is a beautiful part of the world as well, but I'll always be glad to be back in Yorkshire. And like I said before, it’s a place that I truly call home because it’s where I'm met my late wife, it's where my family live and it's where I’ve got a lot of good friends. It's just steeped in so many happy memories for myself.
Growing up, what did you know about death and dying?
The earliest experience I've probably got of being aware of death and dying is when my Grandpa died. I was very, very young, so I think I was around six or seven years old. I have very vague memories of spending time with him and all I can remember is how upset my parents were of the death of - from what I’ve been told, an amazing gent - somebody that had an amazing career and had two amazing kids. He left behind my grandma who died in her early 90s, so she was on her own for a considerable amount of time after my granddad died.
But that was the earliest experience that I've had about death and dying. At the time you don't realise what's gone on because it wasn't a huge part of my life because of how young I was. But, it was the impact on my parents that really sort of opened my eyes to death and dying and how that can make a difference to people.
What did you see change for them?
I think the change was around the caring side of making sure that the family were – not, I wouldn't say coping with the loss of my Granddad - but more make sure that my Grandma was okay. Because a few months after my Granddad died, I remember we took a family holiday to Windermere, up in the Lake District.
My Grandma spent a lot of time on that holiday sitting by the lake and just - I imagine just reflecting on life. Looking out to the open waters and just thinking about all the memories that she must have had with my Granddad, cos they were married for a considerable amount of time. And that sort of hit home somewhat with what I then experienced in later life, but at that point, it showed that as a family we grouped together, and we looked after each other.
And gave people time if they want a time on their own, but also then when they wanted to be around people, they were around people, which is a good thing - us going away to somewhere different as well. Taking ourselves away to somewhere different as a family and enjoying some time together whilst reflecting on what happened.
I think that's so important to find joy in those moments and reflection. And it's not - we were talking just before this kind of big dip down into grief for the rest of your life -
Yeah. There's always going to be elements of grief and elements of sadness and reflection, but you've also got to be happy for the times that you did have with that individual. I know from my own experiences that you do have to find some kind of solace in the fact that you've had that time with that individual. I'm sure my gran was the same and from speaking to my grandma, over the more recent 30 years or so - she spoke very openly and happily about my granddad. You could tell that she was always thinking of the happy times that they shared together.
Yes, people would probably say that he was taken fairly young, but we're all going to die at some point. We haven't got a prescribed time that we're aware of and you've just got to enjoy life for as long as you can. And when it does come to the end, for the people that are left behind - they need to remember the good times and also get on with their own lives, because the people that have died wouldn't want people to stop their lives because they’re not the ones that have died. They're the ones that are still here and can still do something with their lives, irrespective of what age they might be and irrespective of what got background they have and they can continue having a fulfilled life.
Did you go to his funeral?
I don't think we did. I think the reason for that was because we were so young and because obviously we were at school age, I think my parents felt it best that we would continue as normal a day as possible because we didn't really understand what had go on at that point. And it was the right decision at the time. And looking back now, it was still the right decision because my parents knew what was best for my sister and I. It would have been probably hard for us to understand exactly what was going on anyway. So it certainly was the right decision. But once again, if we hadn't been at the funeral, then that would still been the same right decision because it was right at the time for the people involved in that circumstance.
And I think it's such an important point you bring up that there's no one right way for everybody. It depends on who you are: your family context, your environment context as to what decisions you make together.
That's absolutely correct. And you know what's right for one individual, for what's right for one family, what's right for one set of circumstances is not necessarily right for somebody else. Because each of us as a human being, we all have different traits and we all have different characteristics. We're all wired in different ways. And like I said, one person, yes, it's different to other person and that's something that is applicable in everything, not just in death, but in everything that we do, whatever that may be. But in death and dying, yeah, there's no - I wouldn't say there's any kind of textbook way of handling grief, or any textbook way of handling death. But there are people out there that they experience things in life that can potentially help in some way, shape or form with some tips that help them through things.
How did that change over the years, your experiences from childhood about death? What did you grow to know?
So I don't think it was talked about that often as I grew up - up until the point that my other Grandma passed away when I was in my early teens. She passed away at home and she didn't live far from where I lived at that point with my parents. I remember that day quite vividly because we had to telephone call to say that she had passed away. Once again my mother was distraught, but we were expecting it to an extent. And I think - over time people should start to prepare themselves for situations that might occur, especially if we're aware that they're going to occur in the not too distant future.
But it's easy to say that. But when you actually do get that call or when you do find out the news that a loved one that's been part of your life for as long as you've been alive has died. People do react in different ways and emotions do take over. Some people are, they go very quiet and don't like to talk about things. Other people, the emotions come out in the form of crying and everything else, which is completely normal and completely a human response to that.
But over time, that sort of brought me more into thinking about death and dying. And don't get me wrong, it's not something that I've publicly talked about or shared that often.
And then there's a couple of other instances in my more youthful days when situations occurred - there was a situation sort of quite close to home in our family and friends where somebody was murdered that we had to deal with from an emotional perspective in the family.
And then as we went through into the later years of my teenage life, we had one of my mom's close family friends - there was a situation where someone had taken their own life.
So it's hard to sometimes think about death when it's so sudden. If it's something that you know is going to occur - as in somebody's ill or of an elderly age and we know that they're going to pass away at some point, it's easier to sort of take in, but when it's a murder or a suicide or another situation - a heart attack, then it's hard, because you've not planned and you're not prepared yourself for it. So preparing for somebody’s death when you know it's going to happen, in my opinion, is probably easier than a sudden death that's not expected.
Did you talk with Kate about death before she was ill?
So we used to have quite a lot of conversations about death because obviously in Kate’s work as a doctor looking after older people, she experienced death a lot in her job because she cared for older people, which inherently was people coming towards the end of their life, and they did die.
So at first it wasn't something that I was of overly enthusiastic potentially about talking about. Because one, it was Kate's work and sometimes work should stay in the realms of work. But then secondly, I was probably blinkered it into the fact that we were still young and we had a lot of time ahead of us. But I wasn't adverse to talking about situations that Kate wanted to talk about it. She used to sometimes in the car on the way home from work or when we were at home talk at how amazing these older people were that she'd had the good fortune of being part of their life, even though it was towards the end of their life and sharing some of their stories from maybe from the war or maybe from their family life or their life in general.
And for her to be part of giving that individual a good death made her feel really fortunate and also proud that she's been able to do that for that individual and more so, for their family as well. Because she was part of that process of dying for that person. So yeah, I wasn't adverse to talking about it with Kate, but a lot of it was to do with her work.
Do you remember when you and Kate started talking about her death plan?
Yes. Kate was first diagnosed in June 2011. And pretty much as soon as we returned back to the UK from the US - because it was whilst we were on holiday in the US that Kate became ill - we then started talking about making our wills, because it was something that we didn't have at that point, rightly or wrongly.
And even though we didn't realise it was a terminal illness at that point, we still thought, 'right, let's make sure that some of the paperwork is up to date'. So we got our wills in place and we did start to talk then about how this circumstance is going to be a life changing event, irrespective of if it was terminal or not. It would still have defined a lot of our lives because having such an aggressive form of cancer is going to change the way you think in life and is going to change the way in which you can operate and work and live your life.
So we knew at that point that we would have to - that's the point that we started talking about death and dying. Also as time went on - when she was given six to 12 months to live in 2011, we started to formulate various plans. She started talking about where she wants to be then and she'd made a plan for her funeral which we adapted over time - as in we adapted together over time. That was the funeral plan that we eventually had. Which meant for us it was easy, cause we just handed over the funeral upon that we'd come up with to the funeral directors and they made it happen. Which is one less sort of pressure on myself and the family after Kate died because we knew exactly what she wanted.
We were very humorous about death and some people didn't get some of that humour, but that's how Kate and I got through it. We did have quite a dark sense of humour.
Little instances like when, Kate asked me once if she could have another cake after tea and I was like, "well, it doesn't really matter darling cos you're dying anyway, so you can take as many as you want." And some people would have probably felt that was a bit mean, but Kate and I was just rolled around laughing on the back of that. And you can those comedy moments, even though we're talking about dying.
What was your experience of having those discussions?
So firstly, I suppose the discussions, nine times out of 10, we're always kickstarted by Kate because I didn't feel it was appropriate for me to start to talk to Kate about death and dying if she wasn't comfortable at that point talking about it. So most of the conversations were started by Kate, but we were both fairly comfortable about it. I think it was our wider family and friends that often felt a bit more uncomfortable about it.
But for Kate and I, we were fine talking about what was going happen and how that was going to look. Kate being a doctor she had experienced a lot of deaths in her time, some of which were very good and some of which were not so good. And I think first and foremost Kate was adamant that she wanted to have a Do Not Resuscitate order in place, which we did. Because she'd seen too many cases where they tried to resuscitate and then obviously broken people's ribs and it hadn't helped for any length of time. So we made sure that that was in place.
And also, what would life look like for me after Kate had died. Because Kate took comfort in the fact that we'd talked about and she had been able to express what she'd like to happen - and what her wishes would be for me after she'd died. Which some people don't get. Some people don't have the opportunity to talk about life after death. It's something that Kate and I used to talk about a lot because we were fortunate that we knew Kate was going to die.
Like I said earlier on, some people will drop down dead with a heart attack or they'll get knocked over and their loved ones won't have had the opportunity to talk about everything that they want to talk about. Whereas we did, and we always said we were fortunate enough to be able to do that. And which some people thought it was a bit strange that we said, “we knew that Kate was going to die, so it was good”. But this was the circumstances that we were in. And this is the life that we've been given and this meant that we could talk about it.
I'm thinking of our listeners who may be listening in and they can hear that you had a very trusting, beautiful relationship, which I think created a space that you were both able to very comfortably talk about this. What advice – or how could someone who's quite nervous about starting this conversation - what are some ideas that they could phrase it in? Or where do these conversations take place?
Is this in relation to if you've got a friend or partner who's terminally ill, or is this just in general?
Would it make a difference?
I think if you know that somebody is terminally ill and they've told people, then it's probably slightly more easy because you know that they're going through that. But to start conversation about death and dying is - it could be something as simple as talking about, “have you made it will?”
It could be as simple as asking that question to friends or family members. Then that would then prompt further conversations about, “well, if you haven't, why have you not got a will, because everyone should have one”. And then that could also then start talking about, well, “I'd like to know what song would you like your funeral”, which then you can talk about funeral plans.
You can talk about where they want to be; cremated or buried. Or do they want other parts of their wishes to be talked about.
You can make it as serious as you want it to be. Or you can also use humour as well, which like I said before, Kate and I did use a lot of humour in our conversations. But, and it depends on, once again on the circumstances and the people, because some people are very emotionally fine with talking about death, dying, wills, funerals, etc.
But some people, the mere mention of death - people sometimes in society don't like to use the word somebody died. They like to say they've passed away. Well, yes, they have, but they've still died. And the circumstances that leads to that death at different in all situations. It could be heart attack, it could be a cancer, it could be knocked over by a bus, it could be other things as well.
But at the end of the day, they've still died. They're still not breathing anymore. I think it's just depends on the situation. But for me, some of the tips, just know who you're talking to. If it's a group of friends is probably going to be a bit easy to talk about. And just start with the question around wills, because that does provoke that conversation. Cause that's not saying we're talking about death. It just means we're talking about what's going to happen to your estate when you're not here.
I remember I called my Mum and she's in Australia and I said, “Hi Mum, I'd like to talk to you about death and dying”. Like had I been planning and ready for it. And she's like, "do you want to know which jewellery you're getting?"
But it really made me think about how we make sure the other person is in a space with your preparation because she was just doing her morning routine when I called her at my evening time. And for some people asking permission or saying, "Hey, I'd like to talk to you about this thing" can give you both a bit of a chance.
Yeah. Sometimes it is as good as not preparing them for the conversation, just coming out with it. “I want to talk about death and dying” and if they say, "I don't want to talk about that", then that's fine. But they might actually want to talk about it because they've not been able to prepare for the conversation. And it's just as it is at that moment in time.
And then with the example you just mentioned there, Kate's Mum was very much in the same camp as Kate and I around being very blunt about the fact that Kate was dying. Because in Kate's bucket list, she wanted to have a full price handbag from a certain manufacturer of handbags. Because in the past she'd always bought the sale items because she couldn't justify to herself buying the full price handbag. So when Kate's Mum found out about this, she just said, basically, well, "I'll buy you it because you don't need any of our money when we die because you’ll already be dead". So that kind of humour also sort of kicked in from the wider family as well as Kate and I.
And she did get a full price handbag.
Would you be comfortable talking about the bucket list?
Of course, yeah.
What was on it?
So it's not something that we had before Kate was ill. I do recommend that everyone should have one irrespective of what their circumstances are and irrespective of what they feel they should have on their bucket list. And these various organisations out there that can help with this.
The first thing on Kate's bucket list - so we started to formulate it in 2011 after she had been diagnosed, was to renew our wedding vows. So we renewed our wedding vows in April 2012, which was the first thing that we wanted to do because we got married in 2005.
And then the second thing on the bucket list for Kate to return to work because she wanted to help other people, she wanted to return to her career to become a consultant, to look after older people. Which she actually did before she died, she became a consultant in her own right.
And then other items on the bucket list, there was quite an extensive list of items, ranging from eating fish and chips on the east coast, like where Kate used to go as a child.
So things which might not have meaning to other people but actually meant something to Kate and myself. She wanted to go see a cricket match at Lord's ‘cause she was into a cricket. So we managed to go and watch a cricket match there. She wanted to raise money for charity, which obviously we've done over time and continue to raise money for charity. She wanted to visit Wessingdon Mall, which is somewhere once again, she used to go as a child and go walking with the parents. She wanted to see The Corrs in concert, which we managed to do and meet them backstage and spend some time with them, which was really cool.
And a whole host of other things that some of which were cost a bit of money. So she wanted to go on the Orient Express, so we went on the Orient Express from Venice to London. But then other things like I mentioned, you know, going to the east coast - it doesn't have to be things that cost a lot of money. It's just things that are important to you and to make sure that you've ticked them off, especially things that you're only going to do once in your life.
But if you can afford to do it and you've got the time to do it and the health to do it, then I'd recommend doing it. But first and foremost, you need to have a bucket list in order to start ticking items off the bucket list. It's something that we should all have, in a similar way to having a will - we should all have that bucket list as will. Life is for living. If you work hard, then you should be able to enjoy life as well.
Can I ask what's on your list?
So there's certain things that are on my list even now - there was items on the bucket list that we have together, the Orient Express was something that I've always wanted to do. One of the things on mine was to to buy a Range Rover, which I've now ticked off. I'm quite a car fanatic as well. So there's certain cars that I still want to drive on certain roads in the world that I want to drive on. There's a couple of roads in France that I want to get to, that I've not got to as yet, but they're items that are on my bucket list certainly.
And then to visit various countries around the world that have not been to. And I think we talk about charity and fundraising - I have set a target of reaching half a million pounds for charity on my bucket list. And we should get to half a million pounds at some point in the next sort of six, 12, 18 months. But yeah, and I'll keep adding to the bucket list over time. I'm ticking off slowly, but there will be a lot more to come.
And what difference does having that bucket list make?
I think it gives you something to - especially for myself, almost three years on from Kate dying - it gives you something to focus on and wanting to achieve in life.
I think there's a lot of people out there in the world who get up in the morning, go to work, they might come home, have dinner, maybe it goes to the gym or the mind, you know, sit and watch TV and then talk about it at work the next day. And that's their life. That's what they do. And that's fine, that's fine. But there's also those people in life, such as myself who very rarely watch TV, but are always wanting to do more for other people and also wanting to achieve more for myself as well as always pushing myself to do the best that I can do given the circumstances that I'm in: both from a career perspective and from the campaign. And then also from a personal point of view because Kate wouldn't want me to be coming home from work every night, sat watching the TV on my own. She'd want me to be doing the things that I'm doing for the campaign and for the people, but also then to be ensuring that I'm happy in myself, whatever that looks like from a friends perspective and you know - getting on with life, as opposed to moving on because there's a distinct difference between moving on from something cause I've always said moving on is almost like forgetting about the past, but that's not the case.
It's about getting on with life, remembering the past and learning from the memories that you've had and taking those memories forward with you. Because I've got some amazing memories of the last 42 years of my life. Yes, 15 years of that was spent with Kate, but the other 27 years of that weren't spent with Kate. Those 15 years were very much amazing times and determined a lot of what I'll do now going forward. But I've also got the time before I met Kate, which Kate and I often talked about as well. There was - and we called it ‘Life Before Kate’ because there was life before Kate. Similarly for Kate, there was ‘Life Before Chris’. We didn't just suddenly come onto this earth, meet and then Kate died and now my existence is not as good. There was life before and there's life after.
That's so powerful. And it's something that's come up in a couple of the conversations is how do you bring - and you use the word learning. Amir was saying in his conversation that you can honour someone by truly understanding what they've taught you and then they're not really gone. They're living on through their legacy, or the way that you're choosing to remember them, or the lessons that you've taken. What's changed for you now?
I think for me, people do have an impact on people's lives. I was in the fortunate position that Kate and I met when we were relatively young, and we had 15 years together. And now a lot of the work that I now do is talking to events around the world about the campaign we started. But a lot of people always say to me when I'm talking to them on a one to one basis is how their lives have been impacted by the work that Kate and I have done. And that makes me sort of stop and reflect on what kind of impact many people have made across the world.
So yes for me, Kate has made a huge impact on me and the world. Kate and I have on other people. A lot of those people we'll have never met before and Kate will have never met.
And it is remembering that yes, they are not here, because they’ve died - but living and breathing the values that they taught us, or living and breathing the mentality that they had about their approach to life is actually making a difference to people now. A lot of people might not have had a bucket list before and they might not have had a will. They might not have lived every day like it's the last before Kate and I saw it impacted their lives - they might have changed something. If it’s only changed it for one person, then we've made that difference to that person and out there in society, there is a huge amount of people that will always left an impact.
So in my own personal life, my late Grandma - she will have always have the impact on my life going forward as will my other grandparents and other people that we've lost. You know they've all taught me something about different things in life that I will take forward. And the people that have gone almost shape the people that are left behind.
We've got a growing listenership all around the world. You've mentioned the campaign. For people who've not heard about it, can you share what it is and what the plans are for it now?
The campaign is called, "Hello, my name is…". It was a campaign that started in a hospital in 2013, following various interactions with different healthcare professionals.
Whilst Kate was in hospital as a patient, there was a distinct lack of introductions taking place. And so Kate and I decided to do something about it. Kate had 25,000 followers at that point on Twitter, on social media. So we started the campaign #hellomynameis, which has now become a global movement of how a simple introduction in healthcare - and beyond, because at the end of the day it's just two human beings interacting with each other - how an introduction can make such a difference in healthcare conversations, but also in wider conversations.
The campaign started in social media and it’s continued to grow across the world. It's had over 3 billion Twitter impressions since its conception now and it's been used in over 20 countries around the world. For more information about the campaign, you can look at the website, which is hellomynameis.org.uk or on social media on Twitter with #hellomynameis.
The plans for it are very simple. It's around making a difference to any healthcare situation. Or beyond that - because we now do inspire many people outside of healthcare with the campaign. And getting people to think about when they're die, what difference to they want to leave on the world? In a similar vein to the question we've just had - what legacy do you want to leave when you die? And Kate's legacy and my legacy is going to be one of the campaign - making a difference in health care. But - to everyone listening, you can all make a difference and if you make a small difference in the world, if everyone does that, then it would better for everyone.
What surprised you about the campaign?
Initially we were surprised around how many instances there were coming into us, where introductions weren't taking place and how needed the campaign was back in 2013. Even now, we still get situations - and I'm sure the listeners will be able to relate to this - we still get situations where introductions aren't taking place and that means that the consultation or the discussion or the conversation hasn't been as good as what it could have been, if we'd have just had that simple introduction from each other to make that conversation more therapeutic and more meaningful.
Because at the end of the day, we're human beings. It’s two people talking to each other. It doesn't matter if you're the Chief Exec of an organisation or if you're a reporter or an analyst or whoever you are. You're a human being. And two human beings interacting - starting with a simple introduction does make a huge amount of difference. It's something that we can all do when we're interacting with each other.
I was quite struck earlier in our conversation you speak about life after death. What does your life look like now after Kate's death?
So Kate died back in 2016. She died on our 11th wedding anniversary, which obviously is quite a poignant day. And so since that point I returned to work, back to my career, back to the business that have been truly supportive to me. And that's another thing I suppose around everything that we've talked about is having the support of family and friends is great, but having the support of the organisation that you work for is truly unbelievable. We couldn't have got through what we've been through before Kate died off or since Kate's died without the support of the business I work for, because they've been amazing.
So I returned to work, but the other thing on the back of the campaign that we wanted to do was - we wanted to take on a global tour, which Kate and I talked about before she died. We said it'd be a great way for me to, one: see the world because there’s places in the world that I wanted to see and still do. Secondly, to promote the campaign. And thirdly, for me just to have a bit of personal reflection time and go to places I've not been to before. So I went on a 12 month career break then which started in September of 2017. And we - and when I say we - that's me and the campaign. We've travelled the world, we talked at various events. We did over 200 events in that year and spoke to many thousands of people.
It gave me great pride knowing that I could do that. Knowing that I could one: spread the message and spread the campaign and tell the story of Kate and I's life, but then also to be able to do that and raise money for other people as part of the charity as well. Which was great and something that Kat and I talked about. But the other thing as well I suppose, which is more from a getting on with life is in some way, shape or form. I am still relatively young, early forties - I've still got, I might have a day left of my life, I might have 50 years, I don't know. Nobody knows how long they've got left. And so for me it's what does that now look like in the next chapter.
You sort of break life down into chapters. It's something that I've always been I've a fan of - as one chapter, doesn't close, it just sort of moves onto the next chapter. Things might develop in other ways. Who knows where life may take me next because I'm currently back in my career, but I'm also doing some work with our health service. I'm also continuing with the campaign and I'm also got a very fulfilling social life, surrounded by amazing people. I’ve a great family around me, a great network of friends.
And who knows what's next in my world because I'm not going to be one of these people that's gonna sit and grieve for the next 50 years, because that's not what I want to do and certainly not what Kate wanted me to do either.
I do have reflection moments and I do sometimes think I wonder what she’d be thinking about what we've achieved with the campaign and what I'm doing with life and everything else. But then it also me smile knowing that I've been able to do all this, since she died.
And also she keeps on having those little reminders that she's still around. So like, it was my birthday a few weeks ago and she wrote birthday cards for me up until my 65th birthday. So those kinds of things, which are really nice - and some people might not like that, but other people do. I like it. So for me personally, that's fine. Other people might not like that kind of idea. But once again, if we've got that chance to do something like that for the people that are left behind - so in the form of a memory box, or in the form of writing cards or whatever it looks like, then we should do it if we feel it's right for that person.
I'm sure you've heard the word inspiring so many times. I don't want to overuse it, but it's very inspiring to hear you talk with this level of groundedness and humility, but also optimism I think.
Yeah. And the word inspiring is used a lot in the world and there are some amazing inspiring people out there. Obviously Kate being one of them. She's the person who inspires me and many others every single day, because she was doing all the things that she did, whilst being terminally ill.
And I think that's the difference between inspirational individuals such as Kate - and then other people talk about myself and inspiring and everything else, which I'm - I go and talk at events and I share a personal story. I try and make a difference - and if that's deemed as inspiring by others, then so be it, but for me, it's knowing that we are making a difference, which gives me reason to go up in the morning to go and talk at the events that I go to and continue to share what we share on social media. Because it's making a difference to other people. But Kate's the one that inspires me every day and I'm sure many thousands of people across the world as well.
Thank you. It's been a joy to spend this time together. Do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to end on?
I think the final thoughts – I think I’ve mentioned this as we've gone through the whole talk is around: each situation for each individual is different, based on their circumstance.
There's no right way or wrong way of dealing with conversations about death and dying. But we should be having more of them in society if we're comfortable with that.
And I think my final point - and this is something that Kate and I always talked about is whatever cards in life you've been dealt, you have to play them as best you can. And if that means having the difficult conversations at a time that is right, then have those conversations, because you might only get one chance to have that conversation. And if you don't do it at that point, then you'll regret not having that conversation. So make sure you have that conversation.
And also the other things around having a plan for your own funeral. Having a plan for your own death and making sure that everything else is in order. But fundamentally, having the conversations is the right thing to be doing around death and dying, both before somebody’s died and also after somebody died.