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Dying to live.

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Dying to know… dying to get there…. dying to see you again…

It’s amazing how often we hear people talk about what they are dying to do…..

When I logged in tonight I realised it has been four months since I wrote a blog post. The death of my Grandmother. And she was dying to die. She had lived an incredible life and she had had enough. Since then I feel like the world has been turning a little too fast.

I have done talks at various places, the Whittle Ward, Southern Palliative Care Service, a Lung Transplant support group… You n’ Taboo has been asked to have a table at a new event this week coming called ‘Shining a Light on Death’ –, we are organising ourselves to have a spot at a Dying to Know Day event at Sorell – 3rd August 10-4pm, Sorell RSL Memorial Hall, 49 Cole Street, SORELL, Tasmania 7172 Australia…. And I have had the beautiful offer to speak to a group of Pastoral Carers in the coming weeks, a group of Bruny Island residents in November when I get back… The word is spreading. We have also worked with some beautiful people in helping them farewell their kin.

Behind the scenes, we have been busily working on the legislative reforms which are ongoing – public submissions close on the 21st July 2019 if you are interested in commenting on the changes, they can be found on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website here –

The bulk, however, of the last four months, has been filled with planning and preparation for my Churchill Fellowship, I leave in August. I have been connecting with like-minded professionals and services who have extended invitations to me with open hearts. It has been a blessing.

Here’s a list of just some of the places and people I am planning on visiting –

  1. Frome Compassionate Communities Project – UK
  2. Bath University Centre for Death and Society (and their conference) – UK
  3. Promessa – Sweeden
  4. To the Roots – Prague
  5. Capsula Mundi – Italy
  6. Tate Mortuary – Utah
  7. Funeral Consumers Alliance – Utah
  8. National Home Funeral Alliance (conference) – Minnesota
  9. Alua Arthur, Brigitta Kastenbaum, Shari Wolf and various other Doulas and death professionals – Los Angeles
  10. Crestone End of Life Project (pyre) – Colorado
  11. Ramsey Creek Conservation Burial – South Carolina
  12. Amy Cunningham of Fitting Tributes – New York
  13. Museum of death, various above-ground cemeteries and the history of Jazz funerals – New Orleans
  14. Evia microfinance tours celebrating the day of the dead in rural Mexican villages

I encourage you all to jump on facebook and like our page there. About two weeks before I go I will start to post links to all the people and places in my itinerary, I encourage you to check them out. While I am away, time and wifi permitting, I also plan to post updates.

The purpose of this entire project is because we are all dying to live. Live better, live healthier, live richer and more meaningful lives, live happier, live more content… live in peace……. and I believe to do that we need to make peace with our mortality. We need to stare it in the face, take it on board and make out living conscious choices based on the comfortable truth that one day it will all come to an end. What we choose to do in this life will determine the legacy we leave in the hearts and minds of those whose lives we touch along the way. In that way, nothing is without purpose or value.

So this project, my Fellowship, is to look at the human relationship to death and ceremony through alternative technologies and approaches. I want to see what the relationship to death and ceremony is in places in the world where they are doing things differently. Not ‘alternative’ as in hippy, but alternative as in different to how we do death here. Where we sanitise, medicalise and professionalise the process and take it out of the families hands from the point of death, often from before that. The objective it to write a report and formulate some way in which I can help to make a change in Australia about how the before and after death experience is done here in good old Oz and how we can do it better.

It’s a big undertaking. But I undertake it with love and compassion and an open heart and mind… I honestly believe the family led funerals make for a better lived experience, a better grief and bereavement journey and I want that for us here in Australia.

I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions as always.

Bec x

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3 Responses

  1. Wow Bec!!! That’s an amazing itinerary!! How long will you be away? What a richness of learning you will accumulate!! And it will be fascinating to hear all about it. Congrats on your fellowship!! that in itself is a huge achievement. But what strikes me most of all is your giving, generous and loving soul. Working so hard to give us a good death and burial… or whatever one does. You are one in a million and I’m so thrilled to know you and bask in your shining example!! thank you for all you do, so tirelessly, in the community!!

    1. Thank you, my dear, I will try to live up to your words. I am away for 10 weeks and I hope to bring back all the richness I can to enhance the end of life experience for us in Australia. We are well on the way to a death revolution and I am so humbled to be among some of the marvelous people doing this work, each of us makes our own contribution to the journey and if in a small way we leave things a little better than we found them, that is progress.

  2. The research also found the majority of people have used euphemisms as a way of avoiding using the words death and dying when talking about the death of someone they knew the most common euphemisms are passed away (57%), deceased (23%) and kicked the bucket (20%). 17% had used the term popped their clogs and 10% used brown bread . One in five people don t think it s appropriate to use euphemisms when talking about the death of someone they know. Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition, commented: Although someone in Britain dies every minute, our research has found that many people do all they can to avoid talking about dying. It s encouraging that most people think talking about death is less of a taboo now than previously, but there is still a long way to go.

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