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Sara’s blog on the silence of the dying

Ever since having Cancer, I have become acutely aware of not only how many others are struck with this awful disease, and the differences and similarities between sufferers, survivors and their struggles as well as the reactions of loved ones and the community, but my own mortality as well. There are very few people I share my thoughts and fears with, but one very special person is Sara – many of you may know her as the writer, Sara Douglass. Sara also has Cancer. We discuss many things and share much laughter and tears (and about a huge range of things – believe me!) but one thing we have talked about is what Sara calls the ‘silence of the dying’ – it’s not that those dying or with real reasons to be afraid of death (through chronic illness or some other cause) can’t articulate their fears, it’s that there is no legitimate space for them to do so in contemporary society. They are ‘silenced’.

Well, Sara wrote the most amazing blog about this, examining the reasons and causes for this huge vacuum, and I have asked her permission to share it with you. It’s also going to be published, I believe, in a Perth newspaper.

I urge you to discuss what she writes among your family and friends. It’s beautiful, personal, heartfelt but also a wonderful social and historical observation that captures the zeitgeist – contemporary attitudes to death and dying and illness – perfectly. Thank you, Sara, for writing this.

Comments: 7


  1. Thank you Karen for sharing this. Sara’s thoughts on death and dying are beautiful and so important to everyone who lives in this modern ‘stoic’ society.

  2. Karen,

    My heart feels bruised. Poor Sara. I wish it wasn’t so.


  3. Hullo I have been diagnosed with Thymoma cancer of the Thymus gland 2 years ago and am 53 I have One daughter and 3 grandchildren A year ago also have been struck with peri anal abscess at the base of my spine . I have had a lot of operations on this and finally nearly half my bum removed this is what I called my crop circle what your bum would look like if an alien spaceship had landed and then taken off again at great speed and with heat . I now have what I call my cornrows what your bum would look like if it was hair and someone had plaited it tightly Up hill down dale. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with MG Myasthenia Gravis OOPS. This is my Hatrick. It affects the function of your voluntary nerve endings to read signals from the brain so my right eye closes whenever it wants I stay away from anyone who thinks they are even mildly attractive to everyone. Your blog was posted in our Sunday Times STM Magazine and I want everyone who knows me well and even not so well to read it for me. Some bits more than others but the cuppa tea one is crucial I cannot lift a kettle full of boiling water let alone put the water in a cup. My lot seem a bit more sensible than yours in that I don’t seem to have collected as much crap as you although the dressing gowns come in handy especially the new cuddly ones. Of course the one time they realised that my sheets had not been washed for awhile ahem they decided to do it after picking me up from hospital, I cant go home without an adult staying the night, It was nice watching TV on the sofa though while we waited for the bedding to dry. I love my garden. My best friend cannot stand me to be sick on my own so is always sick with me and sometimes she is even sicker than me. Good luck with your death and I’m sure you wish me good luck with mine. Thankyou for writing it down. Tracey

  4. Hullo

    I have a printed copy of Sara’s post on the silence of dying – I went looking for it online, and came across your own blog. For me, it still is such a powerful posting.

    I hope that you are battling on, I’ve lost both my parents to cancer and know something of the war.

    Take care

  5. Thanks Jac, really appreciate your kind words. So sorry about your parents.
    Take care,
    warmest wishes,

  6. Karen can you tell me where I can find a copy of Sara Douglass article on the silence of the dying.
    Thanks in anticipation.

  7. Hi Marian, sorry I have taken so long to reply. The link at the bottom of this piece would, ordinarily, take you to this piece. However, as I explained on Sara’s FB page, her site has been hacked. It is currently down and being repaired. Watch FB for notification of when it is restored. Again, I am sorry I have taken so long – I was away and then not seeing notifications of questions on the website! Hope you manage to eventually read it again. Karen


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