In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I never thought that I’d go on to write and publish blog posts that included blogging tips.
Since publishing my first blogging tips post, they’ve become amongst my most successful on my blog.
Where do blogging tips come from?
Mostly from other bloggers. You’ll find hundreds of blogging tips posts all over the blogging world, and, best of all, the majority are free.
Why are blogging tips posts so popular?
Most of us have something to say about writing and blogging as writers and bloggers. They’re usually hot topics for discussion.
I’ve witnessed many posts about blogging and writing getting many comments left on them. Most of these posts get lots of attention and usually hundreds of comments.
Although most of my blogging tips posts come from ideas I have when playing with various buttons and settings on the WordPress platform, I’d like to get you more involved. Therefore, in 2022, I’m relaunching a successful feature I did a few years ago on Hugh’s Views and News.
Do you have any questions you’d like to ask about any aspects of blogging?
Not sure how to tag and categorise your blog posts?
How do you get readers to leave comments?
What about ‘pingbacks’ and ‘linkbacks’? What are they, and how do they work?
What’s the best days of the week and time of day to publish blog posts?
How should you respond to negative comments?
What are reusable blocks, and what are the benefits of using the Block editor?
How do you reduce the size of images and photos on your blog posts?
I’m opening the floor to you. Here’s what you need to do.
In the comments section of this post, leave me your blogging questions and include a link to your blog.
If your question is selected, I will contact you and write and publish a new post that answers your question. I’ll link back to your blog in the post. I’ll also feature one of your books if you’re an author.
I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of blogging, but I’ve learned a lot about it since I published my first post. I’ll do my best to answer all your questions.
Now it’s over to you.
Do you have any questions about blogging that you’d like me to answer? There’s no deadline for asking your questions. My invitation is open as long as this post is live on my blog.
Get asking, and get featured. I look forward to hearing from you.
As we drift into the last few weeks of the year, I find the world of blogging gradually becomes a quieter place. Like thousands of others, I’ll be taking a seasonal blogging break as we head deeper into December.
However, one of the most popular posts I see appearing every December and early January is the traditional ‘My Top 10 Blog Posts Of The Year’ post. It won’t be long before these annual posts drop into your email box and WordPress Reader.
But how do bloggers measure the success of those top 10 posts? What is it that helps make those posts appear in their ‘top 10’ lists?
The more hits, the more successful?
Most bloggers who will publish their ‘Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021’ blog post will base their list on the number of hits each blog post achieved. But that always has me questioning if that is the right way to compile a top 10 list.
A blog post may have thousands of hits, but how many actually read the content? Does not reading a post make it successful? Should the number of hits count towards success when we’ve no idea how many times the post was read?
Does landing on a blog post by mistake make a post more successful when some of those landing there don’t stay and read the content?
Search engines are significant when looking for something in particular on the web. However, how often have I clicked on a link and then moved on quickly after realising the page I’ve landed on is not what I was looking for? I’ll be honest and say that I’ve lost count!
It’s made me question whether that click I made should count towards making the post more successful when I haven’t read the content.
Volume V’s Sales
Let’s have a look at it another way. Take these two identical shops:
Shop ‘A’ gets hundreds of customers a day because of its location or large advertising budget. However, it gets few sales a day.
Shop ‘B” gets a much smaller number of customers because of its location or smaller advertising budget but gets a high sales volume.
Which of the shops is the most successful? A or B?
When should comments count towards success?
If I compiled my ‘Top 10 Posts of 2021’ post based on the number of comments every post got, my top 10 list would look very different from the list I compiled for the number of hits or ‘likes’ a post got.
For example, one of my posts that received the most hits did not get any new comments or ‘likes’ left in the last 12 months. Yet the post that was number 21 on my most hits list got three new comments and six further ‘likes.’ Which one should be considered to have been the most successful in the last 12 months?
Then there are some bloggers (like me) who may not count specific comments. Comments that add value or prove the post was read, count. Whereas lazy comments such as ‘Great Post’ or comments that only included a line of emojis may not count.
When measuring success, should we include all comments or just the ones that add value or prove the post was read?
When is a ‘like’ not a ‘like’?
I’ve never been a fan of the ‘like’ button on blogs since I discovered that some bloggers and readers misuse it. However, I see many bloggers basing the success of posts on the number of times the ‘like’ button has been clicked.
Should clicking ‘like’ without reading a post count towards making a post successful? How many times have you had the same person press the ‘like’ button on lots of your blog posts within seconds of each other?
How many times has somebody clicked the ‘like’ button within seconds of you publishing a post?
Surely Sandra read my 900-word post if she clicked ‘like’ within ten seconds of me publishing it, didn’t she? Otherwise, why would she have clicked the ‘like’ button?
How do we know if somebody who clicks ‘like’ actually read the post?
Unfortunately, unless somebody clicks ‘like’ a reasonable time after publication, and leaves a genuine comment that proves they’ve read the post, we don’t know.
Misuse of the ‘like’ button seems to be quite widespread in the blogging world, with some readers even pressing it to take away the feeling of guilt for not having the time to read and comment on a post. Some click ‘like’ as a sign of support but may not read the post. Should those ‘likes’ count towards the success of a post?
Some see the ‘like’ button as nothing but a free promotional tool for their blog without reading a post. Leave a ‘like’ and, fingers crossed, it will bring in some new visitors.
The only success we should be discussing for these types of ‘likes’ is that the person clicking the ‘like’ button feels the post and blog are successful. All they’re doing is jumping on the success bandwagon of somebody else’s hard work.
If you’re wondering why I still have the ‘like’ button at the bottom of all my posts, allow me to enlighten you. I discovered (and was told by WordPress) that it is connected to the ‘reblog’ button. Remove it, and the ‘reblog’ button also disappears from your blog posts.
That’s something I was not willing to allow.
And removing the ‘like’ button from your blog doesn’t mean it will be removed from posts when they appear on the WordPress Reader. If you’ve removed the ‘like’ button from your blog, are you aware that people can still click on a ‘like’ button when reading your posts on the WP Reader?
How do I measure the success of a blog post?
Simple. If I was motivated or inspired to write and publish a post, then it’s a success. Therefore, you won’t find a ‘Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2021’ post on my blog.
At the end of the day, I guess it’s entirely up to the blogger concerned about how they measure the success of their blog posts. What I do question, though, is should bloggers be publishing results that are not necessarily accurate?
Allow me to run a final thought past you
Suppose a blog post only gets a few hundred hits yet gets over 50 genuine comments and likes. Does it make it more successful than a post with thousands of hits yet very few comments and likes?
What do you think? How would you measure the success of a blog post?
‘One hundred posts! That’s far too many in eight months,’ I told myself.
One hundred posts over eight months mean that, on average, I’m publishing 12 posts per month or around three per week.
I was rather shocked by the figures, but told myself that it shouldn’t be about me but my audience. That’s where I hope you will step in by answering some questions and leaving your answers in the comments section.
Are 12 posts per month too many, too few, or just right on Hugh’s Views And News?
How many blog posts did you publish between 1st January and 31st August 2021?
Do you think you’ve published too many, too few, or the right amount of posts so far this year?
What are your reasons for the answer(s) you gave to the last question?
If you blog on WordPress.Com, you can find out how many posts you’ve published by going to your blog’s ‘Stats And Insights‘ page and click on the ‘Insights’ tab.
You’ll find the information towards the bottom of the page under ‘Annual Site Stats.’
Join the discussion and let me know your answers by leaving them in the comments section. You don’t need to answer all of the questions if you don’t want to, but I’d be interested in reading the answers you do give.
In the meantime, if you’re wondering what I did on my unplanned blogging break, here’s a clue of one of the places I visited.
Doesn’t it look gorgeous?
Over the coming months, I’ve lots planned for Hugh’s Views And News. In the meantime, if you’d like to follow me on my other social media platforms, click on the buttons below.
Follow Hugh on Social media by clicking on the buttons
I’ve always believed that leaving and responding to comments is the very heart of blogging.
I won’t repeat what I’ve said before about bloggers who do not respond to comments. You’ve heard it all before. But imagine my surprise when I recently read that some bloggers are turning off comments on their blogs for good.
Hold on. What? A silent blog? No comments? No place to discuss what you’ve just read and interact with other bloggers? Will these blogs become known as ‘library’ blogs? A place where you can read but not talk?
Are some of the bloggers that don’t respond to comments the people turning off comments for good?
What are the reasons for turning off comments?
The number one reason seems to be time. Some claim that responding to comments is a waste of their time; time better spent writing more blog posts. I got really hot under the collar when I read that statement.
If you’re lucky enough to get lots of comments left on your posts, then responding to them can become overwhelming. And I agree that the time it takes responding could be put to better use, but if we manage our time correctly, it should never become a problem in the first place.
How many is too many comments?
In the seven years I’ve been blogging, I’ve approved and responded to well over 40,000 comments. I don’t know if that is too many, but I’m a blogger who craves even more comments.
Sometimes it takes me a whole morning responding to them. I could have spent that time writing more blog posts or short stories. However, I’ve always had the attitude that if somebody takes the time to read one of my posts and leave me a comment, then it’s only polite to acknowledge them with a response.
“Treat every visitor to your blog, as you would any guest in your home.”
Those were the words I read very early on in my blogging journey. Written by a blogger who had a follower number I could only dream about, she responded to all the comments left on her blog. Her words have forever remained etched on my mind.
One of the first jobs I do every morning when opening my blog is responding to comments. Not only does it makes me feel good (because I know people are reading my posts), but I like to think that the person who left the comment will see that I’m a friendly guy who doesn’t ignore his audience.
Are comments all the same?
No. Comments come in all shapes and sizes. There are the comments where you know your whole post got read. There are the ones that spark new ideas for future posts. And then there are the comments that say little if nothing and get you wondering if all they did was click the ‘like’ button without reading your post.
I acknowledge lazy comments by pressing the ‘like’ button next to the comment. It, at least, shows I’ve read what they’ve had to say.
Do I have a good quote about comments?
I think so, yes. I published this quote on my blog many years ago – one which many readers seemed to like and agreed with.
“Not answering comments left on your blog is like inviting somebody around for coffee and ignoring them.”
Other things comments do.
Comments can often open up debates between readers. I always enjoy seeing two or more bloggers commenting between themselves about the subject of my post. I refer to it as ‘healthy debate.’ Somebody once told me that getting a discussion going on a blog post you’ve written and published proves you’re engaging with your audience, even if some of the comments are not directed at you.
But what about the question I posed in the title of this post? Should bloggers kill off comments on their blogs? I can certainly see why some bloggers would temporarily disable comments. But to disable them all together is something I don’t believe is a part of what blogging is about.
After all, don’t comments allow the reader to communicate with the author, and isn’t that what most bloggers and writers want? – to engage with their audience?
Would you consider turning off comments on your blog? Are there any reasons why you turn off comments on specific posts? How do you manage the responding to comments process on your blog?
Join the discussion. Let’s get talking.
28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction that take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.
I’ve been involved in some great discussions on Twitter. This one inspired this post.
How did all this start?
It all started when I came across a tweet from an indie author advertising one of his books.
While checking out his Twitter profile, I noticed that one of the right things he’d done was to include a link to his blog. His books looked interesting, so I decided to check out his blog and engage with him.
However, several weeks later, he had not acknowledged or responded to any comments or questions left on his blog posts. Yet he remained active by publishing new blog posts a couple of times a week.
This got me thinking not only about bloggers who do not respond to comments, but some of the responses I often see – those lazy responses that James referred to.
Now I know it’s up to each blogger how they handle comments left on their posts, but am I the only blogger who finds that not responding to comments is a strange occurrence?
After all, leaving good meaningful comments does seem to work. Take a look at Marsha’s response to some comments I’d left on one of her blog posts.
Short comments – do you like them?
What do you think about comments such as Great Post, Nice Story, or Lovely photos? Have you left comments like those or asked yourself ‘why don’t they tell us what made it a great post, nice story, or what it was that made those photos lovely ?
How to respond to short comments
Reader – “Great post.”
Me – “Thanks!”
Reader – “You’re welcome.”
Are those comments beneficial or should they be deleted?
Why do readers’ leave ‘Great post’ comments?
Is it because they’re trying to read and leave comments on too many blog posts in too little time?
Do they feel guilty if not leaving any kind of comment on a post they read so short ones will do?
Is it because they haven’t really read the post?
Is it because they don’t have the time to get into any discussion about the topic of the post?
Is it because what they were going to say has already been said by somebody else?
What are lazy responses?
For me, they’re the types of responses that let all the air out of your blogging balloon. You’ve left a great comment that opens up for a discussion about the post you’ve just read, but all you get back is a ‘Thank youfor your comment.’
How deflated does that kind of response make you feel when you left a comment that asks questions and opens up a discussion?
I believe this is what James was referring to in his answer to my question on Twitter. But is a lazy response any better than no response at all?
Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t mind getting and leaving short comments. Are there any reasons why you leave them?
What are the benefits of leaving short comments?
Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t like getting into discussions on your blog posts?
Are there any benefits to leaving lazy responses?
If I told you that I delete any comments that only include emojis or words such as ‘Great post‘, would you think I was being too harsh?
Finally, this reply to my question on Twitter really got my attention.
What do you think about Lydia’s answer? Do people really care whether you respond to their comments or not?
How would you respond to the question I asked on Twitter? Do you like getting into discussions when replying to comments on your blog posts? Let’s cary on the discussion here. Join the conversation by leaving me a comment.
Over the years, I’ve collected and accumulated lots of Christmas objects. However, some items have me curious as to why I bought them.
Take, for example, this curious little pot.
Purchased on eBay over ten years ago, it has never seen the light of day in our house. Not even at Christmas time have I been tempted to put this strange little pot on display. I’m not even sure what it is.
However, there may be a clue in the hole on the side of the lid where maybe one could place a teaspoon.
So is it a festive pot for holding jam, mustard, cranberry sauce, or Boxing Day festive chutney?
And it’s probably no wonder why I’ve never had it out on display at Christmas. I mean, look at it. It’s the stuff of nightmares. It’s something that belongs in a horror story. Feel free to write one that includes this object.
I’m positive the words ‘Christmas Antique’ in the heading of the auction were what tempted me to buy it. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but it was no more than £20.
Was I conned at buying this supposed piece of ‘Christmas past?’ Maybe the mark on the bottom of the object answers my question? Maybe you know an antiques expert who could answer my questions?
I wonder what’s its history is and what stories it could tell me?
Have you seen an object like this before? What do you think its purpose is? Is it an antique, or was it massed produced for the market?
I’ve witnessed many people saying that they seem to have lost their writing mojo since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Likewise, it happened to me.
I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t feel in the mood to write any forms of specific creativity.
I couldn’t even bring myself to look at any of the drafts I had for new short stories, or even the two books I have in my computer’s archives.
My desire to delve into them had taken a vacation that had no end date.
I had no idea why it was happening. Then I put something to the test.
Like many, I’d found myself reading blog posts that had a ‘doom and gloom’ theme to them.
The majority of those posts, of course, were COVID-19 related.
However, since cutting down on the number of COVID-19 blogs posts I read, my writing mojo seems to occasionally show signs of returning.
I can sometimes see it waving at me before disappearing again. I was never any good at ‘hide & seek.’ I was always the first one to be found and could never find anybody.
When my writing mojo does appear, I do all I can to grab it by the horns and get writing.
Writing something – anything – makes me feel good. In fact, it makes my day!
This led me to seek out more and more blog posts that contain positivity, laughter, humour and good news. Yes, despite what’s going on in today’s world, those happy blog posts are still out there.
Of course, not all COVID-19 related blog posts are full of doom and gloom. Some contain humour, so I haven’t cut myself entirely off from what’s going on in the world. I’ve even written a few myself, but so have many others.
Yes, there is a COVID-19 connection in her post, but the video has made many readers smile and laugh. Thank you Willow, for giving me and many visitors to your blog a lift, and making our day with the video you shared.
Then there are simple blog posts like the one from Elizabeth, at Tea & Pepper, which features a photo of something that brings joy to her moments of solitude. Her blog post made me smile and confirm to myself that everything will be OK. Click here to view Elizabeth’s post.
Social Media joins in with the humour
We mustn’t forget social media. It’s also playing its part in taking a bad situation and turning it into something that will make some of us smile.
You’d think that this moment in time would be perfect for writers and authors to get on with writing and editing their works-in-progress, especially given that many of us find ourselves at home. Yet, many have no urge to delve in and bring those pieces of fiction and creativity to life.
In a recent comment, I left on the blog of Cher Garman (The Chicago Files), I compared my current life to that of starting a new chapter in a book; a chapter in which I didn’t want to feature. Here’s what I said –
I look at the current situation we’re in as a chapter in a book, Cher. I’ll get to the end of that chapter soon, and a new one will begin. And, best of all, these chapters are a pathway to a happy ending.
The comment got me thinking, and I started to wonder if what is happening in the world today is only happening to me?
Am I witnessing something that is a warning to only me?
Are all of you out there just figures of my imagination?
Am I just a figure of your imagination?
Are you watching a sci-fi movie of which I am the leading role?
Did I wake up one morning not realising that I had crossed over into a parallel universe?
Have we been put to sleep, and what is happening is a dream/nightmare we’re all experiencing at the same time?
Have I become the victim of one of my short stories because of all the scares they’ve given readers?
My creative desire to write may have hit a dead-end, but it seems my imagination is still in overdrive.
Thankfully, for me, it was only certain forms of writing I found myself struggling with.
I’ve managed to continue to write and publish the weekly episodes featuring newlyweds Doug, Sophie and their friend Mike. And I’ve had no problems with posting my Wordless Wednesday featured photos.
A few weeks ago, I also started a new feature, The Entertainment Files, but all of these required only small amounts of writing. But, little steps lead to big success, don’t they?
After reading a blog post from Esther Chilton, I got those little steps moving and joined in with her request to write a limerick. What great fun that was, especially reading the limericks from other participants.
There was a young actress called Sheila
Who drove her friends mad with her new feature
A strange ring through her nose
As big as her big toes
Made her look like an outa space creature.
Hugh W. Roberts – 2020
Laughter is a medicine we all need at the moment.
Something else that also happened was that by way of a comment, I heard from another blogger who told me how they were trying to spread some positivity.
What a great idea in helping some individual bloggers move away from blogging about COVID-19 by challenging them to write something positive instead.
I may decide to challenge some of you, so watch out for some pingback notifications from me.
Do you still want blogging tips from me?
I’ve wondered if during these uncertain times if anybody wants to continue to read blogging and social media tips. Given I’ve had little appetite for reading any, is this something people still want to read on my blog?
Please let me know by leaving me a comment.
Are any of you finding that there has been a decline in engagement on your blogs since the COVID-19 pandemic began?
Have the number of comments you usually get decreased in number or have the comments become shorter?
Have you noticed a change in the writing styles and subjects from bloggers who typically write and publish about specific genres?
Are you carrying on as usual and writing and publishing the same stuff you always do?
Have you noticed other bloggers doing the same?
It’s a strange world out there, but as I look out of the window, nature doesn’t seem to have stopped. There may be a lack of people, traffic and life outside, but everything else looks the same.
Some believe that COVID-19 will change the way we all live our lives in the future. I wonder if it will also change the way many of us write? Or are these changes already happening? What do you think?
Just before publishing this post, I read an interesting blog post by Anne R. Allen which goes into much more detail as to why many writers are finding it tough to write at the moment. Anne gives some excellent advice on how to beat the slump. Click here to read her post.
When WordPress first introduced a blogging award on one of its early online blogging courses, I thought it was one of the best ideas they’d come up with.
Not only was it a way of introducing student bloggers to each other, but also to the wider blogging community. For most of those who participated, they helped gain more followers, more ‘likes’ and more comments.
If like me you remember ‘chain letters’, blogging awards work in much the same manner.
Should we accept blogging awards if they come with demands?
I remember how delighted I was when I got a comment informing me that my blog had been nominated to receive an award.
Given that I’d only been blogging for a few months, that comment produced a big smile on my face. I spent the next few hours telling everyone I knew that my blog had already been nominated for a blogging award.
Now faced with a list of demands (as I saw it) of what I had to do if I wanted to accept the award, I duly wrote my post. This involved answering lots of questions, mentioning and linking back to the blogger who had nominated me, and nominating another 15 bloggers for the award.
Weeks after that first award post was published, I was delighted with the results it had produced. Not only had the award nomination gained my blog lots of new followers, but it had boosted my confidence in becoming a blogger.
The whole process had been fun to do. People got to know more about me from the questions being asked. My blog stats rocketed and, most importantly of all, I was able to pass on the good fortune of the award nomination to other bloggers.
The snowball effect
Of course, more followers meant more comments. More followers also meant more awards, but these were different from the first award I’d been nominated for.
I asked myself if bloggers were now making up their own awards and whether or not it was a good thing.
As the award nominations came in, my writing time started to get swallowed up with writing posts and answering questions about nothing else but accepting blogging awards.
New award nominations were popping up in my email box, daily. As the whole thing snowballed, they started to become more of a problem, rather than of help to me.
Please make no mistake about it, blogging awards are a great way to promote new bloggers and put them in touch with lots of other bloggers. They can help build up blogging communities and put you in front of brand new audiences, but they do come with a downside.
Should bloggers invent new blogging awards?
I even went as far as to invent my own award – ‘The Mildred Awards’ which, at the time, went on to become one of my most viewed and commented-on blog posts.
In the early days of blogging, these awards can propel both you and your blog, but be careful in allowing them to take over your blog.
Ask yourself if your readers are beginning to get fed up with reading post after post about awards you’ve been nominated for. Are the people you’re passing on the awards to getting fed up with being nominated by you all the time?
Are you passing on awards between each other by nominating the same bloggers all the time? Does that look good? Or do you do it because you don’t want to upset anybody?
When I started getting behind with accepting awards, I began to panic.
What would people think if I didn’t accept their award? Would I start to lose followers because I wasn’t passing the award on? Would people stop nominating my blog for awards?
How a milestone helped.
In February 2015 (on the first anniversary of my blog) I decided it was time for my blog to go award-free. I’d seen other bloggers do the same thing, and I knew it was time for me to accept that blogging awards had done their job for me and my blog. It was time for my blog to move on.
I wrote and published The ‘Mildred Awards’ post and made the announcement that my blog was now ‘award-free.’
I can’t tell you just how good that made me feel. I felt as if I’d taken a huge weight off my shoulders. After all, I had come to the world of blogging to write about anything I felt like writing about – not just about awards.
However, that did not stop the award nominations from coming in.
How to deal with bloggers who keep nominating you for awards when your blog is award-free.
Of course, I thanked people for nominating me and informed them that my blog had gone ‘award-free.’ Most were happy with my decision, but there were a few who saw it as a bit of an insult that I was not accepting their nomination. One blogger even went as far as to say that they were really disappointed that I was not taking the award and that they were unfollowing my blog!
That was a tough conversation, but I also saw that I was partly to blame. Why? Well, although I’d announced in February 2015 that my blog was now award-free, there was nothing else on my blog stating my decision.
How could I possibly expect anyone (having not read the ‘Mildred Awards. post) to know my blog was now award-free?
I duly put together the following image and displayed it on my blog.
You’ll see it on my widget bar to the right of this post. (Scroll down to see it). It hasn’t stopped award nominations coming in, but it has drastically cut them.
Do blogging awards work?
Yes, they do. However, I believe they have their time and place in the blogging world, and my advice is to let them go once they have done their work in establishing both you and your blog. Do you agree?
How to award bloggers without nominating them for an award.
There are many other ways bloggers can reward each other. For example, visiting blogs and reading posts on a regular basis.
However, for me, the best award is leaving good meaningful comments on each other’s blog posts. You don’t need to do this on every single blog post you read. One good meaningful comment every once in a while is far better than no comments or lots of short comments that don’t really say much.
Instead of leaving comments such as ‘Great Post, ‘Great Tips’, ‘Great story’ or ‘Well done,’ write a few sentences saying why you thought it was a great post or such a good read.
What was it about the post that stood out for you?
What is it about the post that makes it such a ‘good post’?
Which tips did you enjoy the most, and why? Have you tried any of the tips out? Do you have any new ones you can add?
Leave a comment that gives the writer more reply options other than just being able to reply ‘Thank you.”
I believe this is one of the best awards you can give other bloggers. Do you agree?
The kind of comments you leave on other blog posts act as an indication of who you are, what kind of blogger you are, and whether or not your blog is worth checking out and following.
Hugh W. Roberts – February 2015
Is there anything you particularly like or dislike about blogging awards? Have they worked for you? Have you ever accepted them? If not, why not? Do you get fed up with seeing award after award posts on a blog? I’d love to know your thoughts. Join in the debate by leaving your comments in the comments section.
In September 2015, when my mother passed away, both my brother and I were with her as she took her final breath. I remember thinking how beautiful she was. She’d been in a deep sleep for nearly a week and, over that week, she seemed to age quickly. But during the last ten minutes of her life, beauty and youth came back to her.
Can people nearing death hear us?
The medical staff told us to talk to Mum while she slept. ‘She’ll hear you’, were their words, but how could they have known? Had they once been near death’s door where they witnessed the voices of those still living, or had somebody who had experienced near-death told them what happens?
We took their advice and talked to Mum as if she was sitting there having tea and biscuits with us. However, occasionally, general chit-chat turned to tears as we told her how much we loved her and to go on her way with whoever was waiting for her. But how did we know that somebody was waiting for her?
Twelve hours earlier, Mum had briefly opened her eyes and looked up at me. I spoke to her and wondered if she knew who I was. I didn’t tell her who I was but made sure I told her that I loved her.
Having suffered from dementia for the last five years of her life, I asked myself if her condition was still stopping her from recognising me, and if she saw me as a stranger?
When she looked into my eyes, squeezed my hand gently and smiled, before closing her eyes again, I thought I knew the answer. However, years on, I still wonder if I did have the answer. Why? Because I didn’t have any proof of who she saw when she had looked up at me. However, at least she did know that she was loved.
Do books and movies hold the secrets to death?
Maybe the answers are in the fiction we read and watch? After all, whenever we read a book or watch a movie, are we witnessing what the author or authors believe about death?
When we read about a person being at ‘death’s door’, or watching a film where a death occurs, is the author sharing some of their experiences with us from a previous life they can’t quite remember?
What about those who claim to have witnessed the bright light that appears when they were near death? Are they talking from experience, or is it guesswork? Even if only a tiny amount of what they tell us happens, are they telling us what they have witnessed, or are they merely portraying it?
Do the lights go off when we die?
Is knowing you’re about to die, a gift?
Death is something many of us find difficult to talk about. When my step-father asked me to help him organise funeral plans for both him and my mother, it was something I didn’t want to talk about with him. I felt uneasy having to discuss it with him.
He, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have any problems in asking me to help him put the funeral plans into place. He’d already decided which company he wanted to use, how much he wanted to spend, and what would happen on the day.
After I agreed to help him, I wondered why he had chosen that time to ask for my help. He had, after all, been thinking about death because he already knew which company he wanted to use and what both funerals should include. Nine months later, he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Did he know that the actual day of his death was nearing?
Are the displays of death as beautiful as the displays of life?
Have I made any plans for my death? No. Why? There’s something about death that I don’t like talking about, yet here I am discussing it with you.
Talking about death makes people uneasy. None of us wants that, do we? However, in some circumstances, shouldn’t the discussion make us feel happy that it’s out in the open?
If talking about death takes pressure off others, why do we still not want to talk about it?
I knew that my step-father was glad when I helped him organise his and my mother’s funerals. He knew that nobody had anything to worry about when he and my mother passed away. It was all paid for, and nobody had to do anything apart from pick up a phone, and report their deaths.
Everything was taken care of. My step-father was happy, and I should be happy because some of the pressure he’d experienced with death was something I wouldn’t have to go through.
If Hell is below us, why do we still bury some of the dead in the ground?
Can only the dead answer the questions we have of death?
Do you ever wonder who the last person will be that you will see before closing your eyes and allowing death to take you on your next journey? Is there another journey after death? Are there journeys for all of us, none of us, or just some of us?
Some of us still have a birthday to look forward to this year, while the rest of us may be looking forward to a birthday next year. But what about our death day? During the last 12 months, we’ve all passed the date in the month we are going to depart this world (our death-day). Do you ever wonder about that date, knowing that it passes you by every single year?
Does not knowing the date of our death day make us better people or make our lives any more comfortable? If you knew the date of your death-day, would you change anything about the way you live your life? Would you ensure you became a better person and made the most of every single moment of your life?
Do we become isolated when we die?
Would you visit those you seldom see more often knowing that you may soon lose the chance ever to see them again?
Like my step-father did, would you ensure that loved ones are taken care of by preparing for your death? As well as celebrating a birthday, shouldn’t we all celebrate our death day?
Has the location of our death already been chosen for us?
I’ve often wondered about the place where I am going to die. Is that place already somewhere I know or is it somewhere I’ve yet to visit? Will it be at home? Will it be in a shop, theatre, cinema or a bar? What season will it occur? What day of the week will it be? Perhaps, Friday (the day I was born)?
Will I be with others who all have the same death-day as me, or will I be on my own? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be alone when death approaches me. I want to be with people (just as I was on the day I was born).
I’m not sure about being surrounded by my family and friends at the time of my death. I don’t like the thought of them watching me pass away. It wouldn’t be fair to them, would it?
However, being surrounded by total strangers seem alright. I wonder if those strangers are already in my life or if I’ve yet to encounter them?
I don’t like to think about myself dying in a hospital bed or on a beautiful beach in full sun. Although I love living by the sea, the feel of sand on my skin is something I’ve never been fond of experiencing, yet its beauty attracts me.
Can I become a rainbow when I die?
I do like the thought of dying while sitting in front of the TV, especially if what I am watching is making me laugh or feel happy.
Does the way we’d like to die change as we grow older?
When I was younger, the thought of passing away while in a passionate embrace was something I thought was one of the best ways to die. However, as I grew older, I started to think about how unfortunate it would be for the person with me at the time. Now, I wouldn’t want to find myself in that position. Would you?
When I pass away, will anything or anybody replace me? How do I convince people not to be sad that I am no longer here? I want them to celebrate my life, not my death. Does grief have to come hand-in-hand with death? Even if it is a stranger who has just entered my life when I close my eyes for the final time, and sadness will be erased away by time, won’t it?
There is something about death that I do know. While we are still here, we should do all we can to ensure that the sadness that often comes with death is not the kind that buries its roots deeply into those that we leave behind.
Do the dead leave us behind, or are we leaving them behind?