Making the Conversation about Death & Dying, Just another Part of Life

Edwin and Bec have worked in and around the death care industry for many years and have been constantly astonished by the amount of people unprepared when confronted by their own inevitable death or that of a family member or friend. In 2016, in response to this, we put together a group of likeminded family and friends to start a community conversation online and in person with aims of-

  • Demystifying the taboos surrounding death to encourage increased transparency within the industry and the greater community
  • Educating people about their rights and choices
  • Providing a hub of conversation, connection and information
  • Advocating for change in how death is thought about and handled
  • Promoting natural, sustainable options of death care and management

We believe that it is through honest conversation, education and advocacy that people can be well positioned to make informed decisions when it comes to death and dying.  We are committed to creating a space in the community for conversation and education to challenge the taboos and misconceptions around death and dying.

Everyone dies. We all will reach the end of our lives one way or another. How we arrive at that death and what our dying ‘looks’ like are things that we can have input into. Through careful conversation and planning we can not only leave relevant and detailed instructions about our medical circumstances but also about the social and emotional circumstances as well. We can have as much or as little a say as we like about things such as –

  • the circumstances around us (music, people, light, colours etc)
  • who we want around us
  • who we would like to speaking for us
  • where we would like to be
  • how we want to be treated (touched, visited, left alone)

Not all these decisions are legal ones – although there are very important and relevant legal aspects to the planning process, but sometimes it’s just about how you want it to be, to feel, and what you want to leave behind for people as a legacy.

It has been astounding to us, the amount of people who are uncomfortable with the idea of death and dying, let alone being able to talk openly about it. Often the first conversations people are having about death is after the event, when they walk into a funeral home and say, “I don’t know what to do”.

 

Only a few generations ago, death and dying used to be a natural part of life, a community event involving family, friends and neighbours who would grieve and remember together. It was common for the dead to stay in the family home and for the families, their friends and communities to have an integral part of the death care process. Death was an accepted part of life.

Death has always been the last rite of passage for a person’s journey on earth. No matter the religion or moral conviction of a person, the event of someone dying is the last time that person is formally honoured in our society. What we have seen more recently is a kind of removal from that, where for many years now people have been encouraged to hand over the body of a deceased loved one to strangers… Through doing so there has been a loss of the knowledge around what that really means. There are social, emotional and financial implications surrounding the decisions made about death and dying and often they are not made as truly informed choices. Increasingly, the opportunity to honour the dead is put out of reach for people due to the increasing costs associated with ‘traditional’ funerals. We are keen to shed light on more natural and cost-effective ways of making the honouring of a person’s death achievable for everyone.

But, what if they were truly informed choices? Would it make a difference? We think it would and so that is what we aim to do. That is why we want to talk about death and dying. So that people can make informed decisions because they know their rights and options, know what choices are actually theirs to make and can make them based on real and transparent knowledge of the death care industry.

For a long time much of this knowledge has been shrouded in a sense of mystery. There are some wonderful funeral directors out there who personally will go above and beyond to help a family they are looking after – it is a humbling thing to be invited into a family at a vulnerable time and many of the good directors feel the weight of this space, but the reality is, the funeral industry has perpetuated the mystery and taboo around death by orchestrating their services in such a way that has resulted in many of the decisions and power being taken away from the families. And the families are often none the wiser, or they are made to feel as though it is easier – or their only choice.

Our aim is to hand some of that power back to families by providing them with the opportunity to make truly informed decisions.

What is right for you is always going to be a personal choice, and if it is right for you, it is right. We are working towards building our collective community knowledge base to a point where people will no longer find themselves saying “I wish I’d known that was possible…….”.