Traditions

Making music as a way to say goodbye

"When my Grandma passed away it was a catalyst for me to start writing songs that could help people," says Jay Stansfield.

Here is a wonderful example of how we can bring our talents and who we are right up to the experience of the death of someone we love.  Being with the people we love as they die and actively participating in how we say goodbye to them makes death easier … Read more

My Deer, Phoenix Park.

Phoenix Park, Ireland, pic courtesy National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, Ireland.

That’s a full stop – a red stop sign with angled corners and a white line around it.  Resting here, my knees have buckled, in front of that sign you planted in my path. I have walked this space so confidently, happy to share what I know, to muck in. … Read more

A Mexican Cross to remember Chris

A Mexican Cross to remember Chris by, made better for its imperfections, as he is buried today.

Today a Mexican Cross to remember Chris by, because later this morning, Sydney time, his family who are dear to my heart will bury him. They are a large Catholic family just like the one I grew up in and now he, one of the six siblings, is gone. If … Read more

Passing all Understanding

When I started interviewing people about their experiences of death, my selection process was a fairly random one. That was deliberate because I wanted the conversations to reflect life around me as it is in my country, in my time, in my culture – no pretence, no artifice, no filter. … Read more

Do you want to live for 1000 years?

Do you want to live for a thousand years?

It’s all about the radio today. Aubrey de Grey is a researcher who believes the first human being who will live for 1000 years has already been born. This morning I was reminded of de Grey when ABC radio interviewer Cassie McCullagh interviewed Professor John Rasko. Tonight, Professor Rasko will … Read more

Saying goodbye with architecture

funeral ceremony centre, courtesy Hofman Dujardin Architects

Nearly 80,000 words later and close to completing my ‘life affirming book about death’, I’m back. With more ideas, challenges and stories of people’s experiences to share, as we talk about death. This is one: what if better architecture makes better goodbyes? Here’s something wonderful – thank you to the UK’s … Read more

Conversation with Jenny Briscoe-Hough about death

Jenny Briscoe-Hough - courtesy Conversations ABC

When Jenny Briscoe-Hough brought back the idea to her Port Kembla community centre of starting their own not-for-profit funeral service, the idea resonated.She’d wondered whether the loyal stalwarts who attended the centre, seeking support and succour, would be offended. But she was overwhelmed by the way they embraced it. “I … Read more

Do dostadning now

Peter Walsh - Let it Go

Australian-born Peter Walsh, who’s made it in LA with blessings from Oprah, has  written the ideal gem for those at that difficult time of dismantling their parents’ home. Even though Let It Go, like many of Walsh’s books, is about decluttering generally, it shows what a cleansing experience this can … Read more

Birth is a beginning and death a destination…

My colleague and neighbour Andrew Casey was buried today, after a beautiful Jewish funeral service. His brother John observed that he still had his mop of rich brown hair – but lamented that he wished Andrew had lived long enough to go grey. Simple wisdoms flowed from the Old Testament, … Read more

Should I go to the funeral service?

The question came up when a dear friend died recently: “Did I know her well enough to go to the funeral service?”  If you can’t make it because of other commitments that can’t be changed, don’t worry and don’t overthink it but my personal view is that if you’d like … Read more

When expectations differ

Julie’s father passed away in August, 2014: “We had all gathered to be there with him when he died and we were ready to let him go. “He’d been married to my stepmom, Monica, a beautiful Italian Catholic, for about 35 years, but we are Jewish. The Jewish tradition is that … Read more