AN organisation that encourages Scots to be more open about death has welcomed comedian Billy Connolly’s positive attitude in dealing with his Parkinson’s disease.

The 76-year-old created a stir last week by saying he is not afraid of death and that it is, in fact, an adventure.

After his words were widely reported, a cheery video of Connolly playing his ukulele was later posted by his wife, Pamela Stephenson, emphasising that he’s not dead yet. The comedian also said he was sorry if he had depressed anyone with his talk about death.

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However his openness was welcomed by organisers of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, an initiative set up in Scotland to encourage people to come to terms with death.

Since its inception in 2011, Death Cafes have also begun to spring up around the country to facilitate conversations about the end of life – a quirky development which would probably be appreciated by Connolly.

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In the Billy Connolly: Made in Scotland documentary on BBC2 on Friday night, the comedian said laughter was helping him cope with his disease and that he viewed old age as an adventure that was preparing him for the “next episode in the spirit world”.

“My life is slipping away. I can feel it and I should. I’m 75 and I’m a damn sight nearer the end than I am the beginning,” he said.

“But it doesn’t frighten me – it’s an adventure and it’s quite interesting to see myself slipping away, as bits slip off and leave me, talents leave and attributes leave.

“It’s as if I’m being prepared for something, some other adventure, which is over the hill. I’ve got all this stuff to lose first, and then I’ll be at the shadowy side of the hill doing the next episode in the spirit world.”

He said it takes a “certain calm” to deal with the knowledge the condition is never going to go away, and will only get worse in the future.

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He added: “Sometimes I don’t have it. Sometimes I get angry with it, but that doesn’t last long. I just collapse in laughter.

“You can volunteer to take life seriously, but it is going to get you. You know they’re going to win over you. It’s harsh. You can either break down and complain about how miserable your life is, or have a go at it and survive. I think that’s the basis of it all.”

His words have been welcomed by Robert Peacock, the development manager of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, which was set up through an initiative by the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care to encourage Scots to be more open about death and dying.

“Talking about it does not bring it any closer but helps us come to terms with what we have to face,” he said. “People should be able to talk about what they feel and Billy Connolly has been really good about doing this.”

Peacock said that many people the organisation came across had a real fear of death and did not want to talk about it, while others were more accepting of the process.

“Everyone has to be able to come to their own personal terms with it and talking to friends and family is a good way of addressing it and helps people to accept it themselves,” he said.

“This is about making your own peace with it and accepting you may have conflicting feelings about it and that there may be difficult times ahead.

“Some people have their faith, and others take comfort from their friends and family and things they have done throughout their life – we don’t prescribe how they should think but we do say that talking about it and thinking about it is not going to make you feel worse. Being able to accept these difficult feelings is the first step.”

He added that if people did not talk about their death it could make matters more difficult for those who were left behind.

“It causes a lot of heartache if people don’t know the last wishes of their loved ones,” he said.

“Sometimes older people want to talk about it but their children don’t but we think it helps if they do.”

The website contains resources for people who want to begin talking about death but don’t know where to start, as well as information about Death Cafes, often organised by local communities, where people are given a conversation “menu” with questions to consider such as whether they would like to be buried or cremated.

Other events include the November Absent Friends Festival, which gives people the opportunity to talk about those they have lost, and Good Death Week in May to encourage conversations about what makes a good death.

Peacock said for many a good death meant no pain and the chance to say goodbye to those they love.

He added: “It is not just about focusing on death. Accepting that you are going to die one day is about making the most of life and being able to live it to the fullest and that is what Billy Connolly appears to be doing.

“He is accepting these things are happening to him but still wants to get the most out of his life, so he is being really positive.”