The Funeral Disruption Industry in Australia

I am proud to be here in Lisbon at the ESHMS conference “Old Tensions, Emerging Paradoxes in Health Rights Knowledge, and Trust”.

I have two presentations: ohne about EOL Doulas and their role in providing ongoing death literacy and continuity of care for clients, the other (a distributed paper) on disruption and tbe corporate funeral model in Australia.

My distributed papet abstract is on pages 74-75 of the program book. I feel so proud, this is a great accomplishment.

Filming at End Of Life – call for participants

I’m always very interested in the intersections of life, death, art, science, the personal story, creativity, and truth – so when I was approached by a member of a film production company that has a strong track record of ethical, sensitive film-making around intimate and personal life circumstances I was very happy to talk with them about their upcoming project.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in working with an award-winning Australian documentary film team for filming around End Of Life, the contact information is in the Traces press release, click on the link below.

Press Release – Traces

Invited Guest Lecturer for the ‘Death and Dying’ lecture in the Health Psychology unit at WSU

I have been offered a wonderful opportunity this week – I have been invited to present the lecture on “Death and Dying” for the Western Sydney University’s Health Psychology unit.

I will be concentrating my content in the following areas:

  • The importance of using the correct terminology and plain speaking
  • Compassionate communities and combatting lonliness
  • Death literacy
  • End Of Life choices and support in choice
  • End Of Life Doulas

It is always fun and challenging for me to present a new lecture or lecture series, and I look forward to the week of May 14th when I will be presenting the lecture for students at both the Bankstown and Penrith campuses.Firstslide

Slow changes to legal processes. The strange resistance to medical marijuana in Australia…

This is an excellent article for those wondering why access to medical cannabis is so horribly, needlessly difficult to attain in Australia.

We are working against an entrenched (and erroneous) myth of marijuana as a ‘gateway’ drug, the lingering damage of a War On Drugs mindset*, and a strong grip on the medical and legal pathways in Australia by pharmaceutical companies.

There is a good deal of evidence-based research available to us from several countries about the help cannabis oil and medical marijuana provides in chronic and End Of Life cases.

If you would like to find out more about your End Of Life choices please feel free to get in touch with me, I am happy to help you better understand your options.

Let’s talk

*Frequently fuelled by religous prejudice as well as widespread public mis-information that dates back to the time of Randolph Hearst wanting to spend a few pennies less for bales of cotton paper to print newspapers rather than hemp paper – free anti-cannabis advertising anyone??! This is really true; therefore Rupert Murdoch is not the only media mogul to do a great disservice to our communities and societies by spreading lies and mistruths in order to further his own business ends (see phone hacking and the Milly Dowler case, for example). But that is probably another blog post for another day…

Cultural Fun Fact For The Day

I am always interested in information and facts – I am a social scientist after all – and when science and/or fact intersects with death and dying/death practices, I am particularly interested. Add art and culture to the mix, you have me captivated.

According to Sonya Vatomsky there is a good deal of myth and misinformation surrounding the Victorian-era practice of photographing family members after death, and her article focuses on the use of posing stands in photographing the living, not as props for the deceased.

Photography is always about ‘time’ – we photograph so casually and ubiquitously now in our own culture, we capture “The Moment” without a thought for the technology behind image generation – and time used to be the essence of early photography in that the person or scene being photographed needed to be very still for a set period of time. The time required in early photographic methods could be over half an hour (not a problem when you are a mountain range, more of an issue when you are a human who wants to stretch your limbs) of non-movement to avoid blurring the image. Posing stands were used to aid the living in holding still, not to support a body post-mortem, and may have been in place for perhaps a minute and a half of perfect posing for an image that preserved a memory for your life.

Vatomsky’s tip for Victorian photography viewing? If a person looks alive they probably are.


Death on Earth


Death on Earth – Adventures in Evolution and Mortality provides an eclectic mix of personal observation and questioning, scientific information, and observations from death professionals in conversation with the author. At times I found that the wonderings of the author overlapped the focus of the writing in ways that clouded the chapter focus – however, perhaps this is simply part of humans grappling with the unknowns at the End Of Life. I read Jules Howard’s book whilst travelling, which I like because I can read without distractions. Don’t be fooled by the size of the book, although it looks an innocuous paperback there is a lot of information inside, along with a variety of perspectives on death, mortality, sex, and life.

Yup, sex. Because one of the aspects of life that is frequently obscured in discussions of death/dying/mortality is the fact that without sex there is no life, and the two are inevitably intertwined. As a sex-positive End Of Life Doula I was quite delighted to see that the importance of sex to reproduction and thence to death, the life cycle of life on earth, and the impact sex has at all levels of life was not glossed over in this book.

There is a lot of attention paid to the scientific and the factual, which I particularly enjoy, so if you are looking for a fluffy, comforting read this may not be your first port of call. As an End Of Life professional and social scientist, however, I found the book thought-provoking, occasionally quite funny, and sometimes frustrating; arguably all of these are the hallmarks of a good book. The parts I struggled with relate to discussions attempting to equate the responses of other animals to those of human animals, and is a personal bugbear of my own… many other readers may not even notice.

For those of us curious about the arc of life and what constitutes death and happens to physical remains after death (along with some interesting information about ritual and cultural narratives around death for humans) this is a good addition to your bookshelf.