David Bowie’s Lessons on Dying

Jan 19, 2016 | 0 comments

David Bowie DrawingRock star David Bowie proactively planned for his death – something only about 25% of the population does. On January 10, 2016, at the age of 69, he had a gentle death at home, with palliative care controlling the symptoms of his liver cancer. His loved ones were with him at the end. He is a role model for us all on planning for end-of-life.

Many people with advanced cancer don’t plan to die. Yes, hope for a cure is vital. And yet, despite great advances in medical care, humans do still have a 100% mortality rate.

Why not take David Bowie’s example and prepare for the end while you still can? That means making your medical wishes known before you can’t communicate those wishes, prepare a will or trust, and make your funeral plans.

According to a story in The Mirror (U.K.), David Bowie was quietly cremated after his death and the final resting place for his cremated remains will remain known only to his family. He did not want a grave that fans would turn into a shrine or tourist attraction. According to a source quoted in the article, “He was a man who liked to be in control of his life, his career, and his legacy. So of course it makes sense that he has been in control of this too.”

He did not, however, want any kind of public funeral or memorial service. His new album Blackstar, with references to death and afterlife, released just before his death, provides thought-provoking songs for fans to ponder. Two memorial concerts are being planned in London and New York, in recognition of his immense influence on pop and rock music over the past five decades. Sales of his earlier albums shot to the top of the charts in the days after his death.

The article, “Thank you letter to David Bowie from a palliative care doctor” by Dr. Mark Taubert on BMJ Blogs, provides examples of how the steps Bowie took to prepare for his own end-of-life enabled this doctor to make a difficult conversation with a patient a bit easier.

Best of Bowie coverNot familiar with Davie Bowie’s music? Check out some of his classic albums, like The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Diamond Dogs, or a compilation like Best of Bowie or Five Years 1969-1973 to see what everyone’s been talking about.

If you are in Albuquerque and would like to participate in the February 13th event, Laughing and Learning: An End-of-Life Workshop, click here for more information and registration details.

A Good Goodbye