On a sunny Sunday morning in the local community garden, 40 people gathered to yarn up Death and Dying.
Gumbaynggir man, Micklo Jarrett engaged us enthusiastically with his deep infectious laughter, embodied Gumbaynggirr language and the story of the tree of life. After his Welcome to Country in language he had us singing a simple upbeat song—
ngaarri ngaarri la
—walking through the mountains and valleys and singing, Let’s play. And so the day began.
Rani Foreman, spoke to her joy of being a death doula and the support and care she offers at this precious time of dying. We laughed at some of KC’s stories about getting the legal documents right… and wrong!
There was more laughter and great questions when Leonie Watson from Barefoot Funerals spoke about green burials—and they brought with them a gorgeous wicker ‘basket’, which is the most environmentally sound option for coffins.
Out in the garden among the peas, broad beans, onions and other greens, Bruce Meder invited us into a grief circle. Sharing our mourning and concern for the well being of the planet, humans and other than human beings.
We wrapped up the day with more stories from my work as a celebrant and educator on death and dying and a few pieces of poetry. I’ll upload the new pieces soon!
A wonderful day fostering a sense of authenticity, levity, humour, curiosity, care and connection.
One of the participants, Geoff, wrote, ‘What an interesting day! I had no preconceptions of what the day would hold, and the day was awesome, from start to finish. In no particular order, what a pleasant surprise it was to hear such fine poetry, Aboriginal culture, law with a laugh, to commune with mother earth, and finally to know, I could actually plan for something, and there would be a very good chance it would eventuate—I speak of my death of course.’
And Dean wrote, ‘I really wanted to say thanks to everyone involved in the dying to know day information session today. It was frank and full of life! A big congratulations and thanks to all involved in pulling it off, I can only imagine how much work goes into putting something like this together.’
At the close of the event, I asked people to share what they would be taking away from the sessions. Their replies were heartening and affirmed the importance of having community conversations about death and dying.
Thank you to all the presenters and to everyone who came to have the important conversations. Thank you to Helen Pohlman who gave her time to help us set up at the garden.
Dying to Know Day at Woolgoolga Community Gardens was a wonderful get together. We hope you will join us next year.
(Photos by Wendy and Rani)