Talking about death

File picture
Anne Meredith. Picture by Heidi Young

The best time to think about death and dying is when you are alive and well, says Dying to Know lecture series host Anne Meredith.

Ms Meredith has organised a series of four lectures that begin on Dying to Know Day, Thursday August 8.

Knowing what to do when someone is dying, caregiving or grieving, and planning well for the natural end of life will be the key messages in the Gisborne lecture series.

Guest speakers will include representatives from funeral services, Gisborne District Council, Tairawhiti Coffin Club and Hospice Tairawhiti.

DIY funerals, eco-choices and Maori perspectives will be among topics covered in the talks.

“I organised the public lecture series because I love people knowing all their options before they need to know it,” says Ms Meredith. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Although there seems to be a taboo against talking about death and dying, development of knowledge of the process is a growing trend, says Ms Meredith.

“People want to rehearse the process for a lot of reasons. Part of the grieving process is having ownership. Organising the funeral is the last physical act of love they do for a person.”

In the distant past, death was not like it is now. People took care of the dead and dying themselves.

“We didn’t have embalming. If you haven’t pre-planned for death you will need assistance from a funeral director.

“I’m not anti-embalming, just pro-choice. There are times when embalming is essential but there are also alternatives.”

Anyone could arrange a funeral but people needed to be prepared, organised and have the resources to know what to do.

“The best time to think about death and dying is when you are alive and well. It’s helpful to plan well in advance so when death arrives we are prepared.

“This is really a gift we give to our family, who will be left to sort out everything.

“Death is full-on. There’s so much to do; it’s a hard time. For some people it’s a frightening time.”

Dying to Know Day started in Australia and is about preparing people to talk about death and dying. The death literacy trend is community driven.

“It includes lectures for the community to have that information to decide what they want to do with it, which is great because we’re all going to die. We have a 100 percent mortality rate.

“Thinking and talking about death makes you live well.”

  • The Dying to Know public lecture series will be held at the Gisborne Yacht Club, Kaiti Beach Road on August 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 1pm to 3pm. To register contact Anne Meredith at 021 299 5774 or email Threeseedsinfo@gmail.com. Limited places. Entry is by koha.

The best time to think about death and dying is when you are alive and well, says Dying to Know lecture series host Anne Meredith.

Ms Meredith has organised a series of four lectures that begin on Dying to Know Day, Thursday August 8.

Knowing what to do when someone is dying, caregiving or grieving, and planning well for the natural end of life will be the key messages in the Gisborne lecture series.

Guest speakers will include representatives from funeral services, Gisborne District Council, Tairawhiti Coffin Club and Hospice Tairawhiti.

DIY funerals, eco-choices and Maori perspectives will be among topics covered in the talks.

“I organised the public lecture series because I love people knowing all their options before they need to know it,” says Ms Meredith. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Although there seems to be a taboo against talking about death and dying, development of knowledge of the process is a growing trend, says Ms Meredith.

“People want to rehearse the process for a lot of reasons. Part of the grieving process is having ownership. Organising the funeral is the last physical act of love they do for a person.”

In the distant past, death was not like it is now. People took care of the dead and dying themselves.

“We didn’t have embalming. If you haven’t pre-planned for death you will need assistance from a funeral director.

“I’m not anti-embalming, just pro-choice. There are times when embalming is essential but there are also alternatives.”

Anyone could arrange a funeral but people needed to be prepared, organised and have the resources to know what to do.

“The best time to think about death and dying is when you are alive and well. It’s helpful to plan well in advance so when death arrives we are prepared.

“This is really a gift we give to our family, who will be left to sort out everything.

“Death is full-on. There’s so much to do; it’s a hard time. For some people it’s a frightening time.”

Dying to Know Day started in Australia and is about preparing people to talk about death and dying. The death literacy trend is community driven.

“It includes lectures for the community to have that information to decide what they want to do with it, which is great because we’re all going to die. We have a 100 percent mortality rate.

“Thinking and talking about death makes you live well.”

  • The Dying to Know public lecture series will be held at the Gisborne Yacht Club, Kaiti Beach Road on August 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 1pm to 3pm. To register contact Anne Meredith at 021 299 5774 or email Threeseedsinfo@gmail.com. Limited places. Entry is by koha.

Anne Meredith returned to Gisborne after teaching in Samoa for several years. She decided her role in life was as an end-of-life “doula”.

“Doula” is a Greek word which means woman of service, a non-medical companion.

“I always had this interest in death and dying and that began with my own experience. While I was at university studying world religions I came across a story that sparked in me interest in the nature of impermanence.”

The story was a Buddhist parable about grief-stricken Krisha Gotami, who was given the impossible task of fetching a mustard seed from any house in which there had never been a death.

“A seed grew in me about wanting to work in this field,” says Ms Meredith.

“I initially thought about being a funeral director but decided I would be more suitable as an end-of-life doula where I’m helping people before their death.”

After ending her teaching career of 20 years, Ms Meredith trained as an end-of-life doula whose role includes provision of non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying person and their family.

This can include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care.

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