Despite huge advances in modern medicine the mortality rate in Australia continues to be 100%. Shock? Yes, the one thing we all have in common is that … we are going to die. Yet 60% of us here in Australia think we don’t talk enough about death.
To overcome this, over the last 5 years I have been facilitating community conversations and events that raise our death literacy and capacity for end-of-life planning. Hundreds of people have generously shared their stories and insights at Death Cafes, Death Over Dinner, Dying To Know Day, speaking engagements and on my pop-up Before I Die Wall.
Launch of Pushing Up Daisies Workshop
A few days ago I launched a values-based workshop – Pushing Up Daisies: Building your death literacy and capacity for practical and creative end-of-life planning – with a pilot group of 14 wonderful, courageous people as part of the Connect and Thrive with Age program funded by SA Health. The workshop explores death in Australia in the 21st century and how you can creatively, practically and cost-effectively respond. I have incorporated all I have been experiencing and learning in this space over the last 7 years into the workshop, supported by the latest research. In a welcoming safe space, we explore answers to questions such as:
- What is death?
- How long will I live?
- What will I die of?
- Where will I die?
- Do I need a funeral director?
- Bury or burn or … ?
- What’s important to me?
- How to communicate my wishes?
- Can I grow with grief?
We do this by looking at what’s happening in Australia right now in each of these areas and then think about what that means for us and what we would like to do in-line with our beliefs and values. So it’s a very personal, hands-on, practical experience and you walk away with resources and a doable action plan.
The workshop was hosted by the Connect and Thrive With Age team, headed up by Rhonda Smedley; at the Uniting Church hall at Walkerville last Friday 9th August. The light lunch and refreshments were mouth-wateringly delicious as always! Homemade everything from generous-sized mugs of pumpkin soup with think crusty fresh bread to an array of slices with nuts and fruit. In fact one of the feedback suggestions was a longer break to enjoy more of that scrumptious food!
The top values when thinking about death were:
- Not being alone
- Not being a burden on family and friends
- Being able to say goodbye to loved ones
- Staying active and independent for as long as possible
- Being able to have fresh air
- Being an advocate for someone who is dying
- Being informed about my illness and treatment
- Quality of life over length of life
Some of the insights gained by the group were:
- The importance of getting on with my Advanced Care Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney and that they can be uploaded to My Health Record.
- I was pleased that the research that I have conducted, was affirmed by your event. This gives me the confidence to continue with my checklist and to be bold in conducting conversations.
- The need to talk to my children about end of life plans.
- Keep all important documents and information in one, easy to find, folder.
- It is so important to discuss death/funeral wishes with your family as when you ask them what they would like, they haven’t even thought about it and therefore don’t even know what they want.
Kind words …
And some lovely kind words were shared about the workshop:
- Death is not an easy topic to discuss but Abby made each and everyone of us feel comfortable, enabling us to talk openly and honestly.
- It was interesting, interactive, the right length of time and compassionate. Well done.
- Attending the workshop has created much interesting discussion with my family and also work colleagues.
- The workshop has empowered me with knowledge and resources that I may one day need to use and has allowed me to think about what I would really like when I die.
- Great to receive information about many end of life issues and a safe environment to discuss these in.
- Loved how you started the workshop as it got us all thinking and talking. I was interested in the reactions and interpretations from each member of the group.
- Attending the workshop was time very well spent. Much good practical advice associated with death, bereavement and funeral planning was dispensed. Many myths associated with the funeral industry were dispelled.
- Abby’s caring and thoughtful facilitation brought together a diverse group of participants creating a safe learning space to explore death, dying and getting organised. To consider, plan and not be afraid. I felt blessed to share this time with my sister as we share life, living and the inevitably of leaving this place.
- Thank you for a professional, entertaining and informative workshop. Talking about Death and Dying is clearly a topic that you are comfortable talking with and about to others. During the workshop a few members of the group had difficulty in speaking; were overwhelmed by their grief and loss. Your knowledge, confidence, experiences, understanding and compassion were clearly demonstrated, enabling them to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Book a workshop
I would love to facilitate this important workshop for your workplace, community group or family and friends. We need this information back in our communities. Call me on 0409 830 927 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to make it happen for you and your group.