There are now hundreds of women who are charting a new course in how we do death. This is the story of four of those women who are at the forefront of the positive death movement and their reasoning about how we can take back a little control over the way we cross that final frontier and why it’s good for our health and well-being within a broader family context.
“By exploring death and grief and loss we actually uncover purpose and opportunity, strategies and insights into how to live better,” says Vashti Whitfield who explores this in her Matters of Life and Death workshops in Sydney and Melbourne. See the School of Life for more. She notes that: “We don’t, as other cultures and subcultures do, deal with death in a celebratory way.”
Jenny Briscoe-Hough from Port Kembla is an advocate working in this space, has done for years. She is the motivating energy behind Tender Funerals – a community owned and operated funeral provider on the NSW south coast. She reminds us that:
‘You must notify a doctor to obtain a death certificate, but you don’t have to contact a funeral director if you don’t want to. You can keep a body at home for up to five days (unless it’s an unexpected death), build a coffin, wash and transport the body yourself.’ If not a coffin then a shroud is an option, allowing for a temporary coffin for transport to the service or place of interment.
Ruby Lohman, is another person offering services in this field, in the form of Death Dinner Party’s. Read more at this link: Death Dinner Party.
As the stepdaughter of a funeral director there were no hush hush conversations about death in her formative years, it was part of daily life. She wants to reconstruct that same familiarity with the subject in the wider community. Lohman says: “Everyone’s been waiting to have these conversations and here’s the space where they can do it.”
The dinner idea is not new. In the USA these events have been held for some time where they are known as Death Over Dinner. The Lohman events are a variation on this theme.
The fourth featured person in this story is Dr Ranjana Srivastava. Over a 20-plus-year career this Melbourne based oncologist and internal medical specialist has had to deliver the sad news of approaching death to scores of patients and family members. Her book A Better Death – Conversations about the Art of Living and Dying Well, chronicles the variety of experiences one has when working in this field.
Ranjava recommends that every family talk to their loved ones and friends about the funeral they’d like and their goals for end-of-life care. And as we have said over and over again, part of this process includes the preparation of an Advanced Care Directive or Plan.
This is a short summary of a feature story by Trudie McConnochie who writes: “Death is one of life’s few inevitabilities, yet most of us live as if we’ll be here forever.”
For more about these four women read the full story, Let’s talk about death, by Trudie McConnochie, Australian Women’s Weekly, January 2020.
To get started with that all important conversation download the discussion starter here … dying to talk