In recent decades ‘bucket lists’ have become more and more in vogue. If you have not caught up with what bucket lists are, they are lists we make of things we want to have experienced, done or achieved during our life – and in particular before we die. It could, for instance, be a balloon ride, a trip to New York, High Tea at the Ritz hotel, driving a racing car, learning a new language or running a marathon.
This seems to become more pertinent when we know we are dying and are considering whether or not there is time to complete any bucket list activities before we die.
When a close relative of mine was dying we asked her what her bucket list was for those final months, and also what else she needed to complete. She did not want to focus on a bucket list but on completion. There were people she wanted to speak to, and she wanted to ensure her funeral arrangements were clear, she also wanted to organise what would happen with her belongings once she died. And this became her focus. So her focus was more to do with taking responsibility for any final decisions in regards to the dying process rather than trying to fill the space with more achievements that would distract her from the process.
I observed from this that there is a difference between ‘bucket list’ activities or dying leaving life as complete and I am curious about the growing focus on ‘bucket lists’, even when we are younger or at earlier stages in our lives.
It may be understandable for someone who is dying to have a bucket list wish, particularly if a life doesn’t feel complete. Perhaps when a life feels complete it is more to do with taking responsibility for any final decisions in regards to what will happen during the dying process and once a person passes over.
What I also observe is that many leisure type companies focus large amounts of marketing on ‘bucket lists’, and a survey revealed that here in the UK, we can spend anything between £8,000 and £16,000 on bucket list activities particularly once we are over 50.
This raises two questions – firstly why are we focusing on these bucket list type activities more so than perhaps on our daily life activities – are these simply ‘treats’ or an escape from daily life? Why is it bucket lists have become so popular?
What is it about our current awareness of death and dying that makes us think we have to cram in all these bucket list activities?
More so, with all the bucket list activity, how has this enhanced life, and society? Illness and disease continue to rise, as do many social atrocities – so what do bucket lists bring to the world?
What if the end of a life feels fuller, with the focus on completion – on taking responsibility during our life, and especially during the dying phase – more so than having ‘completed’ our bucket lists?
What then if bucket lists are an avoidance of feeling that death offers something greater, and when we take responsibility for the finest of details, that feeling of completion offers our body the opportunity to settle, rather than dying with many loose ends?
Jane K., UK