Coming to terms with uncertainty

Benjamin Franklin, one of the architects of the America constitution, wrote in a letter to a friend, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” It wasn’t an original idea. He borrowed this joke from the forgotten English playwright Christopher Bullock. But he made it famous.

All of us like to imagine that our way of life is fairly permanent. Deep down we know this is an illusion. Change is inevitable. Stuff happens. Even if we never get ill, old age creeps up on everyone. The only thing we can really be certain about is that we will eventually come to the end of life. Even taxes are not that certain!

It’s a shame, therefore, that we find it so hard to talk to one another about the end of life. If we start to talk about end of life care, or what will happen to our loved ones after we are gone, other people will often try to change the subject. They want to cheer us up or put off hard decisions to another day.

But all of us could benefit from doing practical things like making a will, setting up a power of attorney and planning how we should like the end of life to be. Of course, our plans may not work out exactly as we hoped. But if no one knows what we would like to happen we will be very fortunate if it does.

Lisa Hyde Barrett says, ‘Talking and planning will not hasten the end of our life. But it could enable us, and those we love, to find some peace when it does come.’

Picture © Neil Bishop