BE­FORE YOU GO...

Truro women con­struct Be­fore I Die board

Truro Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - LYNN CURWIN

It’s a sub­ject few peo­ple like to dis­cuss, but the end is in­evitable. Two lo­cal women are giv­ing peo­ple the chance to con­trib­ute to a unique list.

TRURO, N.S. – A large cube with a spe­cial pur­pose will soon be on pub­lic view in down­town Truro.

Cindie Smith and Sylvia Estey – with help on con­struc­tion from Smith’s hus­band Michael Flem­ing – have cre­ated a four-sided “Be­fore I Die” board for the com­mu­nity. It will be lo­cated on the lawn next to the Truro Farm­ers’ Mar­ket for the sum­mer. Be­gin­ning May 4, those pass­ing by are in­vited to pick up a piece of chalk and com­plete the sen­tence “Be­fore I die I want to…”

“I saw the video about this a cou­ple of years ago and it re­ally spoke to me,” said Smith. “Now I feel the time is right to launch this.

“We want to en­cour­age peo­ple to think about how they want to live un­til they die, and we want this to be­gin some con­ver­sa­tions around what makes life worth­while and about end-of-life.”

Smith un­der­stands how im­por­tant it is to talk about death. Her daugh­ter, Mag­gie, died 25 years ago, just be­fore her fifth birth­day.

“I knew Mag­gie would die soon and I needed to talk about it, but I was afraid that I would be judged by rais­ing the is­sue - that my need to talk about Mag­gie’s com­ing death would in­di­cate that I had given up or that I didn’t want to par­ent a dy­ing child any­more,” she said.

More re­cently, Estey lost her hus­band Dave to colon can­cer. Be­cause he ex­pected to have more time, some of their last hours to­gether were spent mak­ing med­i­cal de­ci­sions.

“As a society, we talk about ev­ery mile­stone in our lives ex­cept death,” said Smith. “We need to nor­mal­ize con­ver­sa­tions around it.”

She be­lieves the re­cent Death Cafés, ad­vance care plan­ning work­shops and A Date with Death event demon­strate peo­ple’s de­sire to dis­cuss is­sues around end-of-life.

“Be­fore I Die is an­other way to en­cour­age peo­ple to talk,” said Ser­ena Lewis, a grief ad­vo­cate. “I’ve seen these boards in other communitie­s and I love the cre­ativ­ity and diversity. Some­times the mes­sage is about a destinatio­n, some­times a re­la­tion­ship; some are grandiose, and some are a lit­tle silly.

“It gets peo­ple think­ing and talk­ing. It brings dis­cus­sion into a pub­lic place and starts to nor­mal­ize it.

“We have to ex­tend the con­ver­sa­tion to build­ing grief aware­ness. Grief is about re­mem­ber­ing and sup­port­ing. We don’t want to for­get the peo­ple in our lives.”

Lewis and oth­ers will be shar­ing in­for­ma­tion at the ‘Be­fore I Die’ board on Satur­day.

After the board is filled with peo­ple’s mes­sages, pho­tos will be taken and added to a Be­fore I Die Colch­ester Face­book page. The mes­sages will then be erased to pro­vide space for new ones.

“Dis­cus­sion is im­por­tant,” added Smith. “It’s the best way to have the qual­ity of life – and the qual­ity of death – you want.”

More in­for­ma­tion can be found on the Be­fore I Die web­site at https://be­for­ei­diepro­ject.com/.

The video that in­spired Smith and Estey can be seen on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=ue­bxlirosim&t=189s.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Cindie Smith, left, and Sylvia Estey have cre­ated a “Be­fore I Die” chalk­board. The board will be un­veiled on the lawn next to the Truro Farm­ers’ Mar­ket on Satur­day.

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