Death Cafe at Sutherland Library

Sutherland Library’s meeting room was filled to capacity with about 100 people on August 8, 2019, and the Death Cafe organised by Home Instead’s Karen Buckley was fully subscribed within days of being advertised.

Karen and her team had worked tirelessly to show people the importance of being well prepared. To that end, Karen included a panel of insightful co-speakers, all from different walks of life, who were able to share their wisdom in the space of preparing for a good death.

Karen Buckley, Margaret Rice, Jayne Humphreys, Kim Somerville and Vasudha Chandra
Karen Buckley, Margaret Rice, Jayne Humphreys, Kim Somerville and Vasudha Chandra

The audience asked some very important questions including, for example, ‘Is a will a legal document and do I have to see a solicitor to make it valid?’

The answer to this question may seem obvious to a lawyer but was not to many in the room. It was answered extremely adeptly by Miranda solicitor Jayne Humphreys who specialises in estate planning, elder law and estate dispute resolution.

Dr Vasudha Chandra, a palliative care specialist delivered a wonderful reflection on writings about death through the ages – revealing how much our culture’s perspective changes. Her warmth and kindness resonated.

End of Life doula Kim Somerville was also present and, responding to questions from the audience, revealed the role that the modern doula now takes. Maybe that strong but gentle presence at the deathbed in today’s world replaces the care of the nursing nuns who offered comfort in the hospices of the past.

I was able to outline my guide to a modern death in eleven steps – honouring the ancient traditions of the ars moriendi.

“I believe it’s time for us to turn all the talk about ‘let’s improve the way we die’ into something practical,” I said as I began my talk.

To see what the local newspaper had to say about the event, go to:

To find out more about death cafes in Australia, go to:

This death cafe was facilitated by Home Instead, which is committed to supporting elderly people to stay in their own homes. To find out more about this service, go to:

And for some light relief, Better Call Saul, streaming on STAN, is about a charming attorney with questionable methods, Jimmy McGill who specialises in elder law. He is trying to start a class action for the elderly in the fictional aged care home of Sandpiper Crossing about overcharging in an aged care home for regular goods and services. This clip shows Jimmy McGill taking unusual methods to get to his clients.

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