Calendar of Events – Autumn 2015 – Summer 2016

I am pleased to announce and present The Central Coast End of Life Collectives calendar of events for 2015-2016.

CCEOLC Calender of Events 2015-2016 final

Our events are open to everyone, irrespective of health status, religious or spiritual views, or any other “box” society can file us into! We do try to keep our events free from debate about religious views, however, with the preference of focussing more on how to live more fully as we make our way, either swiftly or seemingly slowly, to the metaphorical finish line.

We really do hope you can join us. If you’ve not been along before, please bring a friend or just come along – we are a welcoming bunch!

We have tried to vary the type, location and times of events, in the hope that there’s ‘something for everyone’.

Please refer to specific events for facilitator details, and related contact details.

Blessings,

Gypsy Artemis

Death Doula/Midwife

 

Categories: Death and Dying, Death Cafe, Dying To Know Day, End of Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sacred Hunger is on Tour!

It’s not the grandest of tours, but it’s a tour none the less!!!

I’m pleased to announce that on Saturday 30th May, I will be running my much loved Menarche Healing Workshop in Upper Lansdowne. Not sure where that is? It’s near Taree, Port Macquarie, and Wingham.

Tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/menarche-first-blood-healing-workshop-tickets-16812874761

And the flyer is here 🙂

Upper Lansdowne

When I ran this workshop at Regrowth Festival recently, the 34 women attending had quite profound experiences. Here’s what they had to say afterwards:

What the women said....

So if you live in the Upper Lansdowne area, or know someone who does, you may like to come along and also share this page with them. Whilst we may not feel “scarred” by our menarche experience, we may also not feel fully empowered. Attending this workshop provides an opportunity to reclaim your menarche and re-write your script about what it means to be a full-power, anything’s possible, woman!

For more info email me here gypsy@sacredhunger.com.au or call 0406 502 715

Blessings,

Gypsy xx

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In Memory Of…. an ABC Project

Good morning followers,

I have been asked by the ABC to share this information about their awesome project.

 

As one year finishes and another begins, it’s time to remember and pay tribute the people in our lives who died in 2014.

ABC Open invites ABC audiences to submit a photo and story of a person who has died in 2014 to In Memory Of. It could be a photograph of a moment shared together, or that reminds you about a particular personality trait or story about your friend or loved one.

Lives are made up of thousands of little moments. Tributes to In Memory Of need not be a list of achievements. Choose one story or moment to write about – it could be your favourite memory or the one that makes you laugh. Keep your story to 300 words or less.

Anyone can contribute a memory. The person you are writing about does not have to be a public person and you don’t need to have a professional photo to submit a memory.

ABC News Online will be collating the stories into an interactive timeline as part of their end of year news output, reflecting on the year that was.

In Memory Of was inspired by The New York Times Magazine projectThe Lives They Loved.

Submissions are open until 30 January 2015. You can view all In Memory Of stories on the ABC Open website.

In Memory Of...

 

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Death doula….what the??!!

Have you ever wondered exactly what a death doula is?

Here’s a great article on the subject.

I provide Death Doula services in Sydney, Central Coast and Newcastle areas.

I hope you enjoy!

Blessed be,

Gypsy

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“deathie” tees

Check out Sacred Hunger’s new ‘deathie’ t-shirts :)

FRONT VIEW BACK VIEW

Currently only available in WHITE. Sizes are standard (i.e. a size 10 really does appear to fit like the average size 10. Funny that!) 100% cotton.

Check out styles via links below:

Ladies: http://sportage.com.au/ladies_surftee.html

Ladies scoop neck:  http://www.sport-age.com/?To=Details&CatalogueNo=17&ProductCode=9905&ProductName=Atoll%20Scoop%20Tee

Men: http://sportage.com.au/mens_surftee.html

$25 plus postage, which is $8.25 for 2 -3 shirts (depending on sizes purchased); or $13.40 for 3 or more up to 4.9kg worth. For larger orders please contact me to discuss postage costs.

Wholesale orders welcome.

Note: Refunds/exchanges are not possible unless the product is faulty as the shirts are printed up to order.

To purchase:

  1. Check out the styles in the links above and note your preference i.e the  STYLE you want, the SIZE you want, and the QUANTITY you want. (WHITE ONLY AVAILABLE ATM)
  2. Drop me an email/text with your order and your ADDRESS inc postcode to: kim@sacredhunger.com.au or 0406 502 715
  3. I will then, by return email or text, send you  bank details for you to make an electronic funds transfer for your order. Alternatively I can issue a PayPal invoice, but a small surcharge will apply for this service. (Note: I do not have online payment processing on this site due to trying to keep costs down, which keeps costs to a minimum for my customers – i.e. YOU!!)
  4. Once your payment has been received, your order will be processed.

Thanks so much!

Kim

 

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As our ‘deathie’ year draws to a close

Hi everyone,

This will likely be the final Death Cafe/deathie update for the year. Can you believe it’s nearly 2014??!!!

 

1. December Death Cafe

Thanks to all who attended the December Death Cafe on 10th Dec. As planned we talked about “surviving celebrations when bereaved”, incorporating a little more ceremony and ritual, as has been requested on the evaluation sheets. FYI one of the people I listed on our dedication, offering guidance for his smooth transition to the Other Side died on Fri 13th Dec – 3 days after our gathering. The funeral is tomorrow. His family were blown away by our holding him in our thoughts at the Cafe. A special thanks to those who brought some new friends along – this is great to see.

 

2. January Death Cafe

Come along for the usual deathie conversations over scrummy homemade dinner and cakes. We’ll be showing the awesome film “My Life Without Me” so bring some tissues (I sobbed my way through it the first time I saw it!!!). The film will be followed by a discussion relating back to key elements/issues raised in the film.

Cost is $7 unwaged, $10 waged, which goes towards catering expenses, venue hire, publicity materials, printing, phonecalls etc.

The Circle of Life, 8 Henry Parry Drive East Gosford. Please enter via side exit to your right as you are facing the front door.

6pm for a 6.30pm sharp start…till 9.30pm.

RSVP if you can, but it’s also OK to show up on the night if you fancy it but haven’t RSVPd.

Please forward to friends and if you can, bring someone along who has not been before. Oh, and bring a cushion or fold-up chair if you can as comfy seating is limited.

 

3. The Festive Season

As some of you know, I am certainly not one of those who find the Festive Season all that “festive” due to deathing my mum from 24th Dec – 1st January in 2008 and literally living in Gosford Hospital for that whole time. I don’t have massive Christmas plans (because I now make space for honouring that journey with my Mum), so if anyone is struggling or just wants to hang out with others who get what a challenge Christmas can be, feel free to make contact. If I am able, I am happy to meet up for coffee, or a child-friendly hangout somewhere. Alternatively, please pick up the phone and reach out to an empathetic friend.

Whatever you do at this time of year, I hope it is full of love and happiness, as well as gentle reflections and acknowledgements of our Loved Ones passed. If you need an excuse for a drink on 1st Jan, feel free to join me and raise a glass of bubbles to my beautiful Mamma who passed at 9.05pm on 1st January 2008.

 

4. The future of Death Cafe Film Nights

I am yet to chat with Jon Underwood in the UK regarding the title of our film nights. Worse case scenario is that we can no longer call them “Death Cafe” or list them on the Death Cafe website.  If this is the case, we’ll just find an alternative title, continue with local publicity, and keep running them as the feedback has clearly indicated that people are loving them!

 

5. The Groundswell Project

On Tuesday 17th, myself, Karen Adler (film night facilitator) and Megan Pascoe (future Wyong Shire Death Cafe facilitator) met with Kerrie Noonan from The Groundswell Project http://thegroundswellproject.com/ regarding partnerships and future work together. It looks VERY promising and we have agreed to “date for a year” and see what we can achieve! As soon as we have finalised the arrangement we’ll let you know the finer details.

 

6. ‘deathie’ tee shirts

If you are serious about contributing to social change around death and dying, you may consider donning one of the new ‘deathie’ t-shirts featured http://sacredhunger.com.au/281-2/  it’d be great to see some walking about town!!!! Custom made to order. You know where to find me for orders.

 

7. Death Cafe Feedback

As you know, we are constantly evaluating each Death Cafe and trying to take on board the feedback you offer. Thanks to all who complete the evaluation forms each month.

One of the on-going issues raised by a couple of people a couple of times is the desire to have more time to just talk about whatever it is they want to talk about, for however long they want to talk about it, in relation to death and dying. My challenge is striking a balance where people feel they get to talk, but that those listening remain engaged; supporting interesting and passionate conversations whilst not allowing the space to become a bereavement support group; and ensuring talk-time is shared evenly among group members.

Do people have any specific suggestions as to how we can create some space for a handful of people to “tell their stories” whilst keeping the rest of the group engaged? I was thinking of doing a session where we break off into pairs and one person talks whilst the other listens (for a set period of time) then we swap over. Thoughts? And alternative suggestions please!!

 

8. Day of the Dead 2014

It’s time to get a committed working party together for the 2014 Day of the Dead Community Picnic (November 2014). This will be an on-going working party that will help shape the next event, building on this years, whilst looking to the future evolution of the event. If you are interested, please get back to me by return email, including what skills/strengths you feel you will bring to the event, and why you want to get involved. I’ll then be in touch in the New Year. In the event that too many people put their hands up, I’ll have to select based on strengths as it’s important we form a working party encompassing all necessary skills to ensure a successful event again next year. Any overflow peeps may be able to help out with smaller projects relating to the event, overseen by the working party. If that makes sense!!

 

9. Dying to Know Day 8th August 2014

Similarly if you are keen to get on board with D2KD2014 please get in touch by return email. It’ll be upon us before we know it!

 

10. Motherless Daughters / Motherless Mothers monthly dinner

Prior to Death Cafe taking over my life (LOL) I used to convene a Motherless Daughters/Motherless Mothers dinner each month, where we got together at Sit O’Clock Thai restaurant in Woy Woy and hung out, often drank bubbles together, shared Mamma tales, often laughed and sometimes cried. I will be getting this up and running again in the New Year and it will become a regular feature on our deathie calendar. Attached is the old flyer. If you are interested in helping out with this (small tasks like emailing occasionally) or interested in attending, please let me know as I’ll start a separate data base for this.

 

11. Thanks

Thank you all for your involvement in the End of Life / deathie movement here on the Central Coast. It’s been a MASSIVE year for me as I began the task of carving out a path for our local community to bond, grown, explore and expand in relation to death and dying. The first few events were a dipping in of the toe, so to speak, to see if you were all as ready as I was to drive social change around end of life. Clearly you are ready, and for that, please accept my deepest gratitude and appreciation!

One of my deathie goals is to put the Central Coast Community on the map as being a strong, connected, supportive and innovative group of amazing individuals who are prepared to look death in the face and champion social change and expansion of community consciousness around death and dying. So far you have made my job easy!

Bring on 2014 and our journeys together!

Blessed be.

motherless mothers

Categories: Day of the Dead Community Picnic, Death and Dying, Death Cafe, Dying To Know Day, End of Life, Motherless Daughters | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day of the Dead Community Picnic a SUCCESS!

Day of the Dead Community Picnic

“Wonderful day….coming together and sharing with each other was very empowering!”

“Sharing stories gives us all a glimpse into how grief is embraced or natural. Thank you all for being here today – it’s a courageous step to take.”

I can safely say that the Central Coast’s inaugural Day of the Dead Community Picnic was a huge success! 35 people gathered, with their special, sacred and precious items that represented their dead Loved Ones, and joined with others beneath the shade of the spectacular Moreton Bay Fig tree, remembering, talking and connecting.

Those present for the Remembrance Picnic ranged from 12 months old  to 81 years old, and everything in between! We had 2 dogs and 35 in-the-flesh humans….and no doubt scores of attendees “in spirit”.  The feedback has been amazing…and as I get to collate the data, I will certainly share far and wide.

The winners of the raffle prizes are ….drum roll 🙂

1st -“Pamper Pack” including: facial, brow shape, lash tint & Mama Said’ natural skincare package from Lipstik Hippi- Andrew Pascoe

2nd-Photograph by Karen Adler http://www.thejourneyjournal.webs.com – Tanni and Craig Edmonds

3rd- 2 x Framed black and white photographs by Kim Ryder http://www.pickledtink.com.au/ –

Megan Pascoe

4th – Pregnancy Pack containing: Ten Moons book by Jane Hardwick-Collings http://www.moonsong.com.au/; 100g of Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea from Gnostic Healing http://gnostichealing.com.au/; ‘Cherub Rubs’ Travel Pack & Golden Transition Tea Bags from Gnostic Organics http://www.gnosticorganics.com/ & Book Becoming Us by Elly Taylor www.parentsupportonline.com –Nick Siversten

5th- One 6 week class pass to The Yoga Collective, Terrigal – David Ph:045****323

6th- LUSH gift pack: “You’re a Star” full of bath bombs, melts, a massage bar & other yummy thing, from LUSH at Erina Fair. www.lush.com.au/ – Nick Siversten

7th – One hour Lomi Lomi massage by Saimone Fergusson http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/connect/saimonebakker/service/31317 – T.Denkins (no phone number provided)

8th – 40 minute tarot reading with Sara Skye East Gosford 0413 708 863 – Kyah Edmonds

9th – One hour session of Ortho-Bionomy donated by Clive Salzer – Kel Ph: 4360**01

10th – 2 x 40 minute guitar lessons from Nick O’Meara, Wamberal – Dr Edwards

11th – $50 Gift Voucher from Gnostic Corner, Woy Woy http://www.gnosticcorner.com.au/ –

Roy Ph: 0412***697

12th – $50 meal voucher at Sit O’Clock Fine Thai Restaurant Woy Woy – Anthea & Clive

13th – Candle Holder from Gnostic Bunch http://www.gnosticbunch.com.au – Andrew Pascoe

14th – Candle Holder from Gnostic Bunch http://www.gnosticbunch.com.au – Carmel Meany

15th – Book “Becoming Us” by Elly Taylor www.parentsupportonline.com – Nick Om

16th – Book “Becoming Us” by Elly Taylor www.parentsupportonline.com – David Ph:045****323

17th – CD pack inc 1 EP and 1 Album by Michael Peter www.michaelpetermusic.com – Elke Vidler

18th – CD pack inc 1 EP and 1 Album by Michael Peter www.michaelpetermusic.com – Hannibal 0418***788

19th – Necklace (wood & metal) from Gnostic Forest http://www.gnosticforest.com.au –

Karen/Paul 0408***436

20th – Necklace (wood & metal) from Gnostic Forest http://www.gnosticforest.com.au – Tiffany 0414***561

21st – $20 Gift Voucher from Go Vita Woy Woy http://www.govita.com.au – Mark Thomas

22nd – 4 x 30g bags of Therapeutic Tea from The Moon Sage https://www.facebook.com/TheMoonSage – Nikki 0403***437

23rd – Necklace (wood & metal) from Gnostic Forest http://www.gnosticforest.com.au – Dr Edwards

24th – Necklace (wood & metal) from Gnostic Forest http://www.gnosticforest.com.au – Romaine Rutman

A total of $440.00 was raised…woooohhoooooooo!!!! That means we can buy the following for Death Cafe Central Coast: A special thanks to all our generous community members and businesses who made donations to the raffle. We couldn’t have done it without you!

  1. Digital projector for Death Cafe film nights ($150.00)
  2. A frame sandwich board with printed logo etc inc. black board section where we can write things like “Death Cafe here 17th Nov 2013”. It can then sit outside venues about to host Death Cafes. ($240.00)
  3. The left overs might go towards a coffee machine or future publicity materials….we’ll decide over the next few weeks and we’ll let you all know.

So thank you to everyone who contributed to the day, either by showing up, helping with setting up or running the day, or doing some behind-the-scenes work. It would not have been such an amazing day without your love, time, support and energy.

Bring on Day of the Dead 2014!

Interested in getting more involved next year? Excellent! Please email me at kim@sacredhunger.com.au

Thanks, Kim 🙂

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One more sleep until the Central Coast’s inaugural Day of the Dead Community Picnic!

Day of the Dead organiser Kim Ryder and Raichyl Bantine hanging photos under the tree in Woy Woy.

Day of the Dead organiser Kim Ryder and Raichyl Bantine hanging photos under the tree in Woy Woy. Source: News Limited

 

COMEDIAN Spike Milligan once referred to Woy Woy as the “world’s only above-ground cemetery”.

Now the peninsula suburb is living up to its reputation, with the coast’s first Day of The Dead festival.

In a nod to the colourful Mexican Day of the Dead ­festival, in which people honour loved ones who have died, the peninsula is hosting its own celebration this Saturday.

The inaugural community picnic is the brainchild of ­Ettalong Beach mother and end-of-life photographer Kim Ryder.

She says her fascination with “society’s last taboo” was sparked after a near-death experience in 1997.

“This changed my outlook on life forever and then my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in 2008,” Ms Ryder said.

 

 A woman in dressed up as death poses in Mexico city, during preparations for Day of the Dead celebrations. The tradition includ

A woman in dressed up as death poses in Mexico city, during preparations for Day of the Dead celebrations. The tradition includes building altars honouring deceased relatives. Picture: AfpSource: AFP

 

“This was my first first-hand experience with death and I started thinking about how we, as a society, don’t deal with death very well.

“It just gets tucked away in hospital rooms and we don’t talk about it.

“I’ve always been interested in death, which I know sounds funny, and some people think I’m crazy.”

She said the Day of the Dead community picnic is not about “being offensive or in anyone’s face”.

“There might be some tears and that’s fine,” Ms Ryder said. “We’re taking a ‘soft’ approach to death and this is definitely a family-friendly event.

 

A man carries a skeleton in preparation for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Picture: AP

A man carries a skeleton in preparation for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Picture: APSource: AP

 

“There will be an ancestor altar where people will be ­invited to light a candle or bring a photo or item to place on their picnic blanket in memory of a loved-one who has passed away.”

There will also be guest speakers from other cultures, including Brazil and Argentina sharing their ­personal death experiences and customs.

“Some people are so terrified of our own mortality that they can’t even consider it,” Ms Ryder said. “Everyone dies. I’m simply providing the space to discuss it.”

Ms Ryder also runs ­regular Death Cafe events and death workshops on the coast. “It’s OK to remember and talk about those who have died,” she said. “It’s quite normal.”

WHAT: Day of the Dead community picnic

WHEN: Saturday, November 2, 11am-2pm

WHERE: Waterfront Reserve, Brick Wharf Rd, Woy Woy (just next to the War Memorial Gardens under the big Moreton Bay Fig Tree)

COST: $5-$10 family donation

DETAILS: 0406 502 715

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11 sleeps till the inaugural Day of the Dead Community Picnic!

I am hoping by now that you have heard about our upcoming Day of the Dead Community Picnic on Saturday 2nd November 2013. In fact, I hope it’s in your diary (in pen!) by now and you’re planning with the family what and who to bring along!

When I say “Who?” to bring along, I am not referring just to the living. I am referring to your Loved Ones who have died. Yes, I want you to bring along a photo, or ashes, a belonging, or something that symbolises the Loved One/s you would like to remember at the event. You will be invited to have the objects on your picnic rug with you, or add them to the ancestor alter that we will, together, create on the day.  (An example of an ancestor alter is shown below)

L40A2144 cropped 920 360

This picnic of remembrance  will feature a handful of verbal short stories or ‘sharings’ from a few community members from other cultures, such as our local Aboriginal culture, Argentina, Brazil, and hopefully New Zealand!

More info found here: http://sacredhunger.com.au/day-of-the-dead-community-picnic/

It’s the first event of it’s kind, so help us show Gosford City Council that we want to be part of social change regarding how we as a culture deal with, approach and view End of Life and After Death.

Please invite your friends and family, colleagues and neighbours.

I hope to see you there.

Kim

 

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Death Cafe Central Coast gets more media coverage

Thanks to a new Death Cafe fan, Kirsten Colvin, Death Cafe Central Coast has gotten some new publicity of late. It’s always great to see the message and Death Cafe concept getting out there, reaching community members who may never have heard about Death Cafe before.

Check it out!

I attended a Death Cafe by Kirsten Colvin, Central Coast

An image from Death Cafe on the Central Coast, NSW. Photo: Kim Ryder

An image from Death Cafe on the Central Coast, NSW. Photo: Kim Ryder

I’ve been compiling a list of songs to play at my funeral. No, I haven’t had a near-death experience and I’m not terminally ill. In fact, I’m fine. I’ve just been coming to the realisation for awhile now that I am going to die. And so are you.

Strangely, few friends or family will indulge me in discussing the subject. In my family, death is pushed to the edge of life and only reluctantly tolerated at funerals – uptight, depressing affairs where crying visibly (let alone volubly) threatens to splinter the fragile social veneer overlaying our collective fears.

Fortunately, not everyone thinks like that. All over the globe, groups of like-minded, death-confronting people are meeting up at Death Cafes to eat cake, drink tea and talk about death. It’s not an underground movement; everyone’s welcome. According to theDeath Cafe website  the objective of this “social franchise” is to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”.

Death Cafe evaluation form is filled out at the end of the session. Photo: Kim RyderDeath Cafe evaluation form is filled out at the end of the session. Photo: Kim Ryder

The first Death Cafe in the UK was held in 2011 by founder Jon Underwood, who was inspired by the Cafés Mortels set up by Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz. So far there’ve been at least 200 events, most in the US and Britain, as well as Canada, Italy and Australia. Some take place in actual cafes; others in spaces hired for the event. There are guidelines for facilitators to follow, one being that refreshments, ideally tea and cake, are made available at every event. Despite my aversion to mixing death and food (it seems I’m not the only one who sees it as taboo), I head to my first Death Cafe one Tuesday night, armed with an open mind and a box of tissues.

This one’s a death-related film night with discussion to follow, and I join 13 people, aged from about 25-75, in a quiet drumming studio. Some of them already know each other, and as I head for a cushion on the floor, I hear one of them laugh to another: “Yeah, I was at the last one, too. I’m becoming a real deathie.”

Does that make me a newbie deathie, I wonder? Should I try and be blasé or will the film,Cherry Blossoms, turn me into a blubbering mess? (Directed by Doris Dörrie, the story takes place in Germany, then Tokyo during hanami, the fleeting cherry-blossom season. We meet a couple, a stifled and self-sacrificing wife and her dour, oblivious husband, as they grapple with getting older and the disrespect of their adult children. The unexpected death of one spouse leads the other to Japan and, ultimately, redemption.) Fortunately, it’s more uplifting than depressing and there’s no need for the tissues.

An image from Death Cafe on the Central Coast, NSW. Photo: Kim RyderAn image from Death Cafe on the Central Coast, NSW. Photo: Kim Ryder

About halfway through, my cushion proves inadequate for my nearly middle-aged bones and a kind soul offers to share her beanbag. Bless. Brownies are handed out towards the end, but I can’t bring myself to eat one until the main character has met his untimely but picturesque end beneath Mount Fuji.

With cuppa in hand, we share our first names, but not our reasons for attending and start the discussion proper. The film’s brought up plenty of issues that mirror our own fears. Will we die with our dreams unfulfilled? Can we fulfil the wishes of the dead? Which partner will die first? How will the other one cope? Will we rely on the kindness of strangers, rather than family, to comfort us at the end?

There are a few over-50s in the room and talk turns to caring for aged parents. One selfless soul visits her dying mother-in-law every day to give her, and now other residents in the dementia ward, love and attention. I hope there’s someone like her around when I get old. Others talk of the lack of community these days, a disconnection between generations, and rifts with children they worry will never heal.

The under-30s are more upbeat. One adores her family; they’ve all moved to the same street to be near each other. Another tells of her Gran who loves her aged-care facility and bails on family occasions to get back there as soon as she can. It’s an intergenerational snapshot of the lead-up to death as well as the main event. Fascinating stuff.

The discussion goes up a notch when we talk about cross-cultural ways to mourn, including a confronting scene in the film that shows a skeleton post-cremation and an elaborate Japanese ritual where family members pick up the larger bones with chopsticks and carry them to an urn.

Could we hold that kind of ceremony in Australia, we collectively ask? “No,” pipes up my beanbag pal, who reveals she’s a funeral director. I wonder why she’s there but it seems rude to ask. The questions start flying and the bigger issues make way for the nitty gritty. “I thought all the bones turn to ash?” “No, they grind them,” she says. Wow. “Can you go and watch that?” asks one of the facilitators. “No. Sometimes you can watch the insertion of the coffin.” Why would you want to, I think? But some do.

One of the facilitators, who nursed her mother for eight months until she passed away, tells how she asked their funeral director if she could view the body being cremated. The answer was a resounding no. “What are the regulations around that kind of stuff?” someone asks. “The Australian funeral industry isn’t regulated,” says the funeral director. (It’s self-regulated. You can read more about that here,  as well as a little about what goes on behind closed doors.)

Suddenly the discussion, which I find both horrifying and fascinating, is over. It’s time to vacate the hired studio, but people linger to chat and help pack up; there’s a real sense of connection among this small group of strangers.

The next event will be an open discussion and, according to Death Cafe facilitator Kim Ryder, the one who asked about watching the cremation, it’s likely to be more intense than tonight’s “gentle” one. Gulp. Apparently, one past event got rather heated when two groups aired their opposing views. “It was pretty intense,” says Kim. “We had to stop the discussion. Death Cafes are not a place to debate our spiritual or religious beliefs about what happens when we die.”

Still, there’s no shortage of people wanting to talk about death. Past attendees have included everyone from psychics to palliative-care nurses, art therapists and psychotherapists, people who have had near-death experiences and, of course, those who have lost someone close. “It’s different every time,” says Kim.

She seems amused but interested that I found the discussion challenging. There’s little about death that fazes her. As well as facilitating Death Cafes, she also owns an end-of-life and after-death support and education service that runs death-focused workshops and community events. She’ll even paint you a coffin to match your personality. “I live and breathe this stuff,” she says.

Hopefully after a few more events I’ll have a little more of her courage, although I’m not keen on the upcoming behind-the scenes tour of my local crematorium with picnic to follow. In the meantime, I’ll keep making the most of my finite life. I don’t want regrets.  I don’t want “I should-haves”. I want to live each day as if it were my last.

So I’ll keep adding to my “Funeral songs of all time” playlist and sharing it with my friends. There’ll be no Wind Beneath My Wings at my funeral, but I’m hoping my family will crack a smile at Don’t Worry, Be Happy or at least have a good, loud cry. Or course, I’m in no hurry to test my theory (not that I’d be alive to see it) and hoping like hell that writing this has not tempted Fate.

Lifeline: 131114

Thanks Kirsten. We hope to see you at the next Death Cafe on 17th November!

Want to check out the upcoming Death Cafe events? http://sacredhunger.com.au/springsummer-201314-events/

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