My blog is moving!!!!

Thank you, Loyal Readers, for your support and enthusiasm for my work and words.

I have shifted to a different website, so you can find me here from now on:

https://www.gdep.com.au/

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More About EOL / Death Doulas from a UK expert

You can listen to Professor Allan Kellehear from the UK talk about the role EOL Doulas can play in individual lives, as well as our role in death literacy.

If you are wondering if an End Of Life Doula is a good fit for your compassionate community then please do not hesitate to get in touch. I am an EOL Doula who specialises in information transfer, client advocacy, consumer rights, vigilling, and after-death support.
Let’s talk.

A bit more about how/why advance planning is one of the best things we can do for ourselves…

Rather than have me bang on about the beauty and importance of advance planning, especially Advance Health Care Directives (AHCD), there is a wonderful Guardian article here that is really worth while.

The article is from a UK legal and medical practice perspective, but the essence of why advance planning saves time, effort, grief and heartache is international.

Would you like to have an AHCD in place for yourself? Please do get in touch, I am an End Of Life Doula who specialises in advance planning.

Let’s talk.

Soooo – What Kind of Person Uses an EOL Doula Anyway?? (And other very ordinary, very common questions people ask about what I do.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the different aspects of my knowledge set that clients are interested in, and it seems to me to be a good time to write about who comes to an End Of Life Doula – or Death Doula… You know what, I don’t care what you call me, as long as you do call me, and just don’t call me late for the glitter cannon at your funeral (but I digress). So here is a potted overview of what sorts of questions I hear from the Doula-curious amongst us, what my client demographic includes, and how normal our ideas for final wishes and funerals really are.

After the #D2KD events that I ran last Wednesday (there’s one on the 25th as well, August is by no means over, People!) I had a lot of interest from people concerning the death/End Of Life Doula side of things. This interest was quite distinct from although in tandem with the consumer advocacy and information transfer that I offer, and I realised that there is a general sense amongst the community that either A) people plan EOL just before death, and/or B) we only engage the services of a Doula when we are just about to die. The response to both of these notions is, ideally, no, it is much better/easier to plan in advance – but you can do a lot with your last minute if required – and an EOL Doula is great to have in your life long before your last moments. It is just honestly more sensible to do what medical practitioners, nurses, and health support staff do, and to plan well in advance in order to live life to the full.

Therefore, in no particular order, is some information about the kinds of people who come to an EOL Doula, and some of the sorts of things that I get asked.

Firstly, arguably most importantly, clients want to know what kind of cake will I bring to our planning session? In a nutshell the cake types vary, and I can take orders, but today was a nice Nigella Lawson fruit cake which always goes well with tea. Fair warning: all cakes are GF, because I like to eat cake too.
Who uses an End Of Life Doula? In all honesty, business owners, retirees, young parents, entrepreneurs, casual workers, CEOs, middle-aged people, single people, married couples, de facto couples, individuals, families, LBGTIQA+ people, heterosexual people, pet owners, new home owners, renters, migrants, ‘Australian Royalty’, parents, grandparents, godparents, and almost anyone else you can think of has talked to me about death, dying, and final wishes. Anyone can engage the services of an EOL Doula, so if this post helps to normalise and take away some of the shyness around talking to me about death then I’ve done what I set out to do.

A question I’m often asked, frequently by young people who are beginning to think about death in a more ‘normal’ fashion around me, is how old is your average client? This is a piece-of-string question, because I can work with people of all ages. Yes, I do have ‘older’ clients, but young people need to think about advance planning, younger people get sick and die young, and young people also have unexpected deaths which family and friends need to grieve and mourn over… The real question underlying the how old layer is generally something like: I’m thinking of coming to talk to you, is that ‘normal’?? My answer to that is an unequivocal: Yup. Very normal. Yes.

Another area that people want to ask about, and often do so but obliquely, is about how soon is too soon to plan? This is a really easy one, because it is NEVER TOO SOON to plan, to talk, to make your wishes known. Shouty caps may seem excessive in a chatty blog post like this one Gentle Reader, however the biggest mistake in planning, the one that causes the most heartache and regret, is to think that we have more time. One thing I have learned over my years of study, working with people, and observing the world is that we always think we have more time than we do. Life is incredibly, breathtakingly brief and precious… do your planning now, because we don’t know when we will need to have documents, wishes, and arrangements in order. You can, by the way, engage my services for planning without making arrangements for me as an EOL Doula, but you can ask a LOT of additional questions whilst we walk through your paperwork and that sounds like a true bargain to me.

Do I have to be dying to start working with you? I’m not dying yet, can I start to plan??Good question, and no – actually a lot of people work with an EOL Doula well before active dying. And for your second question here you really should start to plan as early as possible, so yes you can!

“Um, this may sound odd, but…” (or a variation on this theme) is something that often comes up in funeral planning – and this phrase alerts me that I have a client in front of me who is prepared to be very honest, and therefore vulnerable with me, telling me important information about what they value in the world. I am always careful to listen attentively and take good notes at this stage, because although we may try and brush our ideas off as ‘nothing much’, these ideas frequently speak to the true heart of who we are, and what kind of messages of love we would like to leave the people closest to us.

Clients often think that their wishes or ideas may be ‘weird’ or strange, but the only thing I’ve really noticed about the planning ideas of my clients is how beautifully they reflect the personality of the clients I see – in all honesty death and dying is like sex. If you like it and want it, and everyone who needs to consent has consented, then there is nothing weird or strange about what you want for your final wishes, funeral arrangements, or Advance Health Directive. Truly. I can promise you that most of us would like to be remembered for what we loved most in the world, and our passions and interests will be just right for our EOL planning. For instance: a memorial service in a community garden for the person who loved to grow food, a book-shaped cake at a funeral for the avid reader, a disco playlist and mirror ball in your room during your final hours because you loved the nightlife? Perfect! And perfectly appropriate for you – and there is nothing weird here, despite many clients feeling some shyness about expressing what they would most like for their advance planning and last wishes.

Why use a death/End Of Life Doula? Because it can be incredibly useful to have a well-informed, calm, objective voice and presence at times when emotions run high, when we are not dealing well with stress, when we feel overwhelmed by circumstances, and because at one of the most awful and difficult times in our lives it is essential to have someone who supports you, laughs with you, or sits in silence with you. EOL Doulas can help you retain some perspective on death, be better informed, and be less isolated (death can be lonely, so it is good to know you are not alone). An EOL Doula can help you delegate tasks, focus on taking one step at a time, and remind you when you need to be reminded that healthy self-care can be modelled and practiced even at the worst of times.

Have more questions? Please do not hesitate to get in touch – I am an End Of Life Doula who specialises in helping you better understand your choices and options.

Let’s talk.

Why Mamma Mia 2 – here we go again is a wonderful metaphor for life after *** SPOILER ALERT!

If you haven’t yet seen Mamma Mia 2 and do not wish to know about a central aspect of the film’s plot please return for either my next post, or when you have had a chance to watch the movie.

Hubs and Self went to see the film last night, and we really enjoyed it – and we had read a fair bit of negative press, mostly complaining that the film lacked the ‘exuberance’ of the first one. And, yes, I can confirm that the sequel does not have the relentless, driving energy and breathless pace of the first. And this is sensible for a few good reasons…

  1. This is not the original, this is a sequel. If you are really attached to the pace of the first one then you are free to keep watching it. #sorted
  2. Everyone is older, and as we mature we do not have the relentless energy of youth – as humans we are subject to time (and oxygen, but that’s another blog post).
  3. Donna is dead and the film considers life, music, love, and change through a framework of loss and mourning that would be caricatured at best if a poppy, bouncy, high-energy approach to the movie was present. And this last is why I really loved (and yes, I cried at times… I did grow up listening to ABBA after all, and I am nostalgic and romantic and sentimental at times) how the movie is paced and crafted.

When someone we love dies we are changed. Even though we still feel love, joy, sorrow, exuberance, happiness, fear – all the things that make us human, sentient, and complex – we feel them through a new lens of experience. We have an ‘after’ now, which informs our responses and our understanding of the world. The film also takes place at the first anniversary of Donna’s death, and many of the characters respond with tears and sorrow to this date – it is not uncommon in real life for the full force of grief, loss, and mourning to take effect after a year has passed, taking many of us by surprise, so as an EOL Doula and sociologist I liked the honesty of the writing.

I could write for hours about how well I think the filmmakers compromised between happy music and a full perspective of emotion after a death, but I think I will leave this post shorter than I had intended. Just like our lives…

May your day be filled with music, laughter, joy, and enough bittersweet memory of all the people and times you have loved to make it a rich one.

If you are experiencing your own anniversary of a death and would like to know more about your own End Of Life options, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am an End Of Life Doula who will help you find the right soundtrack for your advance planning and funeral.

Let’s talk.

A not-to-be missed opportunity to hear me speak in Sydney as part of the panel for Co-designing the Funeral of the Future.

Picaluna funeral disruption model offers consumers a genuine alternative to the corporate (generally rushed, frequently impersonal, consistently overpriced) after-death funeral business model in Australia. Much of the focus for Picaluna is working with clients to genuinely serve and service their needs, and this is much more effectively achieved when people have planned in advance.
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This panel event, with six specialist individuals who all have particular areas of expertise within the death, End Of Life, and funeral fields, will sit on a panel and answer your questions on Wednesday 29th August at UTS Aerial Function Centre, Sydney. Participants are able to email their questions for the panel in advance, offering everyone a chance to listen, explore, and consider what ‘funeral’ and the personal are for each of us, and how this might be expressed in a funeral designed by, and for, you.

See the link below for tickets – and in the meantime, if you have questions do not hesitate to get in touch. There is an email link on the landing page for the event information and tickets here:

https://www.stickytickets.com.au/73938/codesigning_the_funeral_of_the_future__the_picaluna_panel.aspx

Let’s talk.

Why Knowing Your Consumer Rights Around Funerals, After-Death Bodycare, and Body Ownership Can Save You Money (as well as time, heartache, and energy…)

There has been a flurry of financial information doing the rounds of Australian news outlets in the last few days – see HERE and HERE from finder.com.au for details.

The average cost of a funeral now in Sydney is more than $8K, a startling figure in light of how inexpensive a funeral and cremation can be if you know your consumer rights and plan in advance. Of course, ‘planning’ refers to honest, open considerations of personal wishes and ideas, and open, honest conversations and a willingness to listen to the person whose End Of Life you are planning. The open-mindedness particularly pertains to Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) planning.

This is one area of death, dying, and End Of life documentation for which I strongly recommend you engage a suitably-informed End Of Life Doula; as there are sometimes state-by-state variations it is always a sensible idea to double-check that the EOL Doula you wish to retain for this purpose is an expert in the state you live in. This is a consideration for people who live close to state/territory borders, or who may know someone who is a highly-skilled EOL Doula, but they practice in a different state.

I am a staunch advocate of transparency in costing, as well as in consumer rights – however the corporate funeral industry in Australia is quite resistant to having informed consumers as this means the profit margins will be lowered – see Ibisworld for further information. One of the locked figures is the profit margin, estimated by the 2017 Ibisworld Report at 1.2 billion AUD per annum and growing.

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As a way of increasing death literacy and awareness in my area I am hosting an information evening: Plan Your End Of Life & Live Better! an official #D2KD event on August 8th with consumer education as the focus. Many events are being held around Australia throughout August, so have a look at the #D2KD site to see if there is one near you. Alternatively, if you prefer one-to-one interactions feel free to contact me to talk about your rights and choices at End Of Life – but remember I am based in NSW. For other Australian states, or to find an EOL Doula closer to your home, try The End Of Life Doula Directory.

Curious about your rights and consumer options? I specialise in information transfer and am extraordinarily good at explaining things from different perspectives so we can be sure you are fully informed and have all your questions answered.

Let’s talk.