For most of us, the thought of walking into a cemetery to talk about death and funerals is probably not your ideal way to spend a Saturday morning. We don’t want to think about death, let alone start thinking about the logistics. Or do we?
According to the Groundswell Project, 60% of us think that we don’t talk enough about death. And if they have it their way, this is all about to change. The Groundswell Project is an initiative that wants Australians to have a more open attitude towards death and dying. Part of this is through encouraging people, organisations, and businesses to host local events about death issues.
One avenue to raise awareness about a particular death issue is by hosting a “Dying to know day” event. These events could encourage people to talk about their death wishes right through to helping loved ones deal with grief.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event first hand. Catholic Cemeteries Rookwood hosted their first dying to know day. Over 30 people from the community crossed the pearly gates of Rookwood Cemetery to get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. It was informative, personal, and not what I had expected.
The aim of the event was to remove the taboo of talking about death & also to provide useful information about funerals, cremations, cemeteries, and grief. The topics were covered by various death care professionals in the industry. It was also an opportunity for people to ask very specific questions relating to burial laws, paying for a funeral, and religious practices.
Speakers included Jason Kelly (Group Services Manager), Bernie and Darren Lee (Funeral Directors), Janine Edmunds (Community Relations Manager), Patricia Thomas (Bereavement Consultant), & Matt Teasdale (Cemetery Services Supervisor). Each person gave a very personal and insightful account from their unique expertise, offering valuable advice on a range of areas.
Highlights of the event:
Question time: After each speaker gave a talk about their subject, guests were given the opportunity to ask questions about the death related topic.
Tour of the Crematorium: Being taken behind the scenes of what goes on during the cremation process. After the funeral service has finished, the coffin is efficiently wheeled down into the basement where it is transported along a conveyor belt in order to begin the cremation process.
Dealing with Bereavement: Hearing about Catholic Cemetery’s role in supporting bereaved families and the types of support services that are available.
Takeaways from the event:
– It’s not morbid: Before going to the event, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But surprisingly for such a heavy subject, the event & discussion didn’t feel morbid- rather informative and practical. Guests were genuinely curious and looking for answers. Credit to all the staff who came across as really approachable and knowledgable.
– Planning is better: Whether it’s writing it down on a piece of paper or including it in a will, having some sort of plan is good idea for a lot of reasons. There are also a number of benefits for organising a prepaid funeral.
– Grieving is normal: Everybody deals with death in their own unique way and timeframe. Most of the time, a person grieving doesn’t require intervention from a mental health professional.
On the whole the event was a great success and judging by the level of engagement, the Catholic Cemetery should continue to run these type of events for the community.
For those needing information regarding funerals, burials, or cremation, I would highly recommend attending any future events hosted by the Catholic Cemetery.