The J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust has awarded The GroundSwell Project seed funding to develop our death literacy work over the next 3 years. This significant funding will enable us to develop a death literacy questionnaire with our research partners. This tool will be used to provide a national benchmark of death literacy in Australia and importantly it will provide a way for all organisations and initiatives to measure the social impact of their death literacy work at a local level.Read More
Read Jessie's post for the Centre for Workplace Leadership.Read More
Did you know that half of us would like to know more about DIY funerals. That's right - they actually exist. Read More hereRead More
When we think about the end of our lives it is safe to say the majority of us want to die at home and surrounded by family. Today's blog talks about Number 6 of the Ten Things.Read More
The Ten Things workshops are creating a storm around the country. Here we chat to one attendee about his experience.Read More
We’ve been curious for a while about the use of the word “taboo” to describe the response to death so we decided to run a little poll and crowdsource some of your thoughts about death being a taboo.
"I knew I would learn a lot and meet people who have both expertise in the area and different experiences and beliefs around death"Read More
Pia is a fashion designer, funeral celebrant and death practitioner who creates meaningful rituals around the dressing and care of the deceased. Pia brings a wealth of experience in natural burial practice and has recently set up the Natural death Advocacy Network our Death Literacy Conference partners this year.
Please read on - Pia talks writes here about her work at Clandon Wood and about 'Come to my Funeral' Sunday October 12. Tickets are still available for all 3 days of the conference HERE.
Working with Clandon Wood Natural Burial Ground in the UK on over 100 funerals I was exposed to a number of amazing and vastly differing types of ceremonies, coffins, dressing styles, hand picked and arranged flowers, various grave gifts and grieving types. Being an insider meant that I could absorb all of these different options and then suggest them to new clients, who weren't sure of what they could do, through story telling and images. However nothing beats seeing things for yourself (preferably in a safe and supportive environment).
In order to show the options outside of the sting and immediacy of a real death, Clandon Wood would have regular Family days- everything out in the open, demonstrations at all times and public lectures from the community. The highlight of these days however was the Come To My Funeral event which saw the founder of Clandon Wood – Simon Ferrar host his own funeral. With a Frank Sinatra impersonator, barbershop quartet, his wicker coffin decorated by visitors then lifted onto a horse drawn cart which then was followed by everyone out to his grave and lowered by audience.
People could model their own funerals on his example, or even better invent their own by picking and choosing the moment that spoke to their individual personalities. It is with this notion in mind that we have decided to host another iteration of the Come To My Funeral event, only this time populated with some of the best Victorian practitioners have to offer.
Whilst we don't (yet) have a 31 acre wildflower meadow dedicated natural burial ground, the Augustine Centre will allow us to host an intimate and informative enactment of the dying, death and funeral proceedings.
We considered carefully whose funeral we would model the event on and ultimately were unanimous when I suggested our beloved conference MC, Molly Carlile AM. She would be perfect in that she been vocal about some pretty unique requirements – Twisties thrown into her grave for one- and fierce in her promotion of death education. While we wanted her -the next part was to ask her if she would die for us- even only if it was conceptually! Asking someone to rehearse their funeral long before the expected date carries a certain confrontation with ones own mortality. It needs to be handled with the upmost respect and many moments of ‘knocking on wood’ that it is not a plan that would need to be utilised in an untimely manner. However Molly, having worked with they dying for an extended period of time, was the first to remind me that it can happen at any time.
In what is sure to be an evocative and provocative event, Come To My Funeral will start with a visit from a palliative care worker who will discuss the sorts of treatments available and we will witness the transformation from diagnosis through to active dying and death bed rituals. A music thanatologist will play for Molly as her family keep vigil over her and upon her death the washing, dressing, laying out and the cooling of her body will be demonstrated before a visit from a celebrant will help to facilitate and empower family members to conduct their own authentic ceremony. From here Molly's body with be encoffined and her coffin decorated before she is laid to rest and her community gather to celebrate and Wake – Twisties guaranteed!
Come To My Funeral is being held as part of the 2nd Annual Death Literacy Conference: Doing Death Differently, 9-11th of October hosted by NDAN and the GroundSwell Project.
Venue: Alexander Room, Habitat Uniting Church, Hawthorn, Victoria.
Dying To Know Day was bigger than ever this year thanks to the many passionate people across Australia. In this account, written by Arlene Roache, LHD Palliative Care Volunteer Coordinator and Janeane Harlum, Area Palliative Care Manager for South Western Sydney, we hear about how the area health service designed and implemented a series of events for their staff and community.
August 8th 2015, Dying to Know Day is an annual day of action dedicated to bringing to life conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement. This initiative to encourage and educate people to start conversations and take action was endorsed by the LHD’s Advanced Care Planning and Care of the Dying ( ACPCOD) committee.
The LHD’s Palliative Care Volunteer Service took a lead role in the organisation of each event which included securing, picking up resources, packing the bags and preparing the signs and posters for the display boards. At each facility, the executive sponsor called for active participation through nominating champions to assist with and the coordination of the information stands in the hospital foyers.
Printed fact sheets, brochures in English and translated for most languages together with promotional materials were kindly donated and promptly delivered by the NSW Trustee & Guardian, CareSearch and Donate Life. Posters, Dying to Know Day buntings and conversation starters were purchased from The Groundswell Project by the area palliative care service
What we did
The aim was to engage in meaningful conversations around Death and Dying with staff and the community. This was done through the pledge cards to assist people to start thinking about “Having a conversation with a loved one”, “Make or update my will”, “Talk to my family about my wishes”, “Appoint my enduring guardian”.
Staff and palliative care volunteers were in attendance at every hospital and assisted with set up, talking to people and pack up. The volunteers and staff engaged in meaningful conversations around Death and Dying, Living Wills and having conversations around ‘Who will Speak on your behalf if you are unable to do so” as well as listened to many stories shared. In particular the palliative care volunteers need to be commended on the manner in which they delivered the conversations and acknowledged stories shared.
A total of 250 bags with resources in English and promotional items were given out throughout the LHD, more than 60 empty bags were prepared by people who selected resources in their languages together with the promotional items. Around 160 staff and members of the community wrote their pledges and 56 people across the LHD stopped to have a chat. These included members of the hospitals’ executive team.
Feedback received from staff and volunteers who have previously assisted with similar activities during Palliative Care Week were that this was their most successful exposure. They felt that they were able to engage people in conversations and exchange thoughts and ideas, people spoke of their personal experiences, family and general attitudes, regarding death and dying and expressed opinions as to how these important matters could be raised, and dealt with in a less confronting way. They felt that this event attracted a larger number of staff members stopping for a chat; some taking away pamphlets that they thought were useful for patients when bringing up the thorny issues of Wills, Advance Care Directives. The ‘Message Stick’ had worked well within the facility as staff members who came to the stand said that they were encouraged to visit the stand. In Bowral Hospital, staff members from the Private Hospital came over for a chat. The posters were great and delivered the message. The words and language used on the posters were simple and effective.
Thank you to all executive sponsors, clinical governance unit, palliative care volunteer coordinator, volunteers and all staff involved in the organization and delivery of Dying to Know day. It was a great team effort.
Ashkeeper: A vessel to nourish and replenish your soul with memories of your beloved
Planning ahead is important, but letting people know your plans is also a necessary part of the process.Read More
Caring for a body at home can be confronting, scary, intense, and sad. Here Deathopedia takes a considered look at the process.Read More
Did you know that only 25% of those who are dying talk to their family about their end of life wishes.Read More
A few minutes with one of our Ten Things Workshop attendees on what he walked away with after spending time learning what he didn't know about death.Read More
Given that planning a funeral is so personal, today I’m going to give you some questions to think about; for yourself, your family and friends.Read More
Did you know almost half of us die without a will! What are you going to do about yours?Read More
"I am designed to live and designed to die. I choose to trust in this design..."Read More
As a part of the Ten Things Workshops, we're sharing a few of the things you need to know about Death.Read More
There is a great deal of misinformation “out there” about dead bodies at home. Check your local health policy. This blog is about NSW.
My artwork directly relates to a lived awareness of death and memorial. I work with sculpture, video, performance and installation. I am also a Masters by Research candidate with an Australian Post-Graduate Award scholarship, my topic: ‘Remnants of the dead and demands on the living’. While my practice continues along I have also willingly become a Deathie and staunch death literacy advocate.
Deathie is a term that is becoming increasingly applied to describe someone who is interested in and likes to openly discuss anything death related. I personally identify with this term. While initially concentrating my research on a very personal account of deaths in my family, it soon turned into a need to be involved in a more public discussion. By immersing myself in all things death related I have amassed a considerable amount of knowledge. I have attended symposiums and conferences in and out of the art field, learnt taxidermy, hosted Death Cafés, become involved in the Green Burial movement, and networked with health care and funeral industry professionals.
When I unexpectedly stumbled across a Death Café in the Blue Mountains in 2013, the joy of finding fellow Deathies was colossal. I have now participated in, co-hosted (with Kerrie Noonan) and hosted many Death Cafés. We meet and discuss anything related to death and dying. Main subjects of discussion have focused on palliative care, advanced care directives, wills and benefactors, education in schools, suicide, rites of the elderly, death of family and/or friends and all the emotions and grieving processes that come with these major life events.
The outpouring of grief is seldom publicly displayed in modern Western societies, emotions are restricted to locations like cemeteries and events such as funerals where such emotions are rationally accepted. I too have self-imposed restrictions on the time and place of my own reactions, yet the rules have somewhat broken down. Since having a child succumbing to tears has increased exponentially. I no longer watch the nightly news on television and seldom press play on video footage online. Graphic images of natural disasters causing the deaths of thousands or a rescued old dog can bring on a rush of emotion.
As an artist I find that galleries and art spaces have always been fantastic places for emotional responses including the explosion of grief. Such spaces have been referred to as transitional spaces, a place for the contemplation of loss and life. My practice considers the space in which it is shown, the experience of viewing my work is as important as the work itself. I was recently invited to show my video work 1 million years and a series of sculptures Holding Space at the curated exhibition DEATH at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Western Sydney. It was an extremely well received exhibition with 17 artists exploring the topic of death and sponsored by a local funeral company. Watching people react to my work in the dimly lit gallery was so fascinating. I can only hope that they took away something for themselves, a little memory that was resurfaced or a suppressed emotion let loose.
This Dying to Know Day, Gareth Thomas (a youth social worker, artist and new recruit to Death Cafés) and myself are hosting Death Café Blue Mountains in the pop-up shop ‘Music Hunter the Experience’ in Katoomba. I’m also encouraging friends to consider something they could do just for themselves on this very important day, as many of them are still not ready for a Death Café J
- Being with Dying Workshops | Wauchope | July 16/17
- Information stall | Armidale Farmers Market | Aug 2
- Dying to Know: A Nowra Conversation in word and SONG |6th August
- Multiple information stalls | Parramatta | Aug 7
- Byron Bay Writers Festival discussion| Aug 7
- Death Cafe | Redfern
- Penrith Council Information stall | Council Foyer during Aug
- Movie night | Bulli
- Open Day at Joseph Medcalf Funeral Services | Belmore
- Community Forum Q & A | North Kiama
- Dying to Know Day at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery
- Death Cafe | Katoomba
- Advance Care Planning | Aug 12 | Umina Beach
- Stuck for worlds - talk | Mayfield | Aug 21
- Death Cafe / Playback Theatre | Mullumbimby | Aug 29
Hayley is a member of the D2Kday leadership group in NSW.
See more events in NSW here.
Dying To Know Day is August 8th.
Go to www.dyingtoknowday.org for more details.
Read the big list of death literacy builders HERE.