I can hardly believe it but today marks Day 365 of my daily blog about death and dying that I resolved to do as a project throughout all of 2021.
My first post was about my motivations for setting this new year’s resolution in order to “move in that momentum” of living with my end in mind.
I quickly learned that, by doing a daily blog about death, I would need to be more alert to reality, awake to ideas, and attentive in conversations in order to come up with the consistent content. This made my visits richer, my discussions deeper, and drew me out myself in surprising and uplifting ways.
Many people asked me why I chose to blog about death every day and, if I am honest, it was largely catharsis. The work that I had done in federal politics led me to an urgent sense of personal responsibility to contribute to cultural renewal, however modestly, concerning how we suffer, die, and grieve.
Many of my posts led me to deepen my understanding of family stories and even became occasions to hear new ones for the first time. For example, I had never before seen this video of the brief speech I gave at my maternal grandfather’s funeral when I was 10. I hadn’t known this story about how my mom showed care to her brother-in-law’s mother. I hadn’t asked my father why he produced a video commemorating my baby brother’s short life and funeral.
Whether I was reflecting on Ancient Greek funerary monuments, the Paris catacombs, scholastic seminars in Italy, the colourful cemeteries of Mexico, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Polish cemeteries, or the war sites in Normandy – these posts enabled me to reflect on (and, in a sense, re-live) my travels while I was unable to travel to new places.
I even paid attention to sports and pop culture with post about Kobe Bryant, the Anthony Hopkins film The Father, Nightbirde from America’s Got Talent, the Martin Scorsese film Silence, baseball player Roberto Clemente, and Ed Sheeran’s new song “Visiting Hours.”
Writing every single day was conducive to making new historical friends as well as getting to better know the older ones, including: Rainer Maria Rilke, John Milton, Martin Buber, Henri Nouwen, Janusz Korczak, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Alexis de Tocqueville, Elie Wiesel, Emmanuel Levinas, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, Thomas Aquinas, Anne Frank, G.K. Chesterton, Tomáš Halík, Plutarch, Cecily Saunders, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, St. Damien of Molokai, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Leon Kass, Josef Pieper, Pope John Paul II, Michael Brendan Dougherty, Max Scheler, Venerable Montse Grases, Aristotle, Pope John XXIII, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jordan Peterson, James Baldwin, Carl Rogers, Pablo Neruda, Michel de Montaigne, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Helen Keller, Saint Bernadette, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Catherine Doherty, etc., etc.
The top five posts of the year were all interviews, which goes to show the kind of content that people enjoy reading most. Here are the top five posts of the site in order of view counts:
1. Meet the People Granting Wishes to the Dying*
2. From Disbelief to Advocacy: A Son Responds to His Father’s ALS Diagnosis
3. This is What Indigenous-Catholic Reconciliation Looks Like
4. Yazidis in Canada Need A Cemetery
5. Hospice Nurse: I’ve Always Wanted to Help People By Making Them Feel Better
*My amazing colleague and his twin brother were so inspired by the Living Wish Foundation that they raised $3,685 for this charity as their birthday fundraiser.
Three months in to the project, I gave a virtual keynote address at the Calgary Pro-life Association’s Annual General Meeting on “Why I Blog About Death Every Day.”
In 2021, I published 365 posts on DyingToMeetYou.ca totalling 145,283 words. To date, the site has received 10,415 unique visitors and 19,513 views. Thank you to everyone who followed the site, subscribed, commented, sent me worthwhile articles and videos, and shared personal stories, insights, and experiences with me privately.
May the shortness of our lives ever remind us of the preciousness of so great a gift.
Happy new year 2022!