Library to stage online conversation to mark Dying to Know Day 2020

Important conversations: End-of-life doula Relle Hart from Bellbrook says being more informed about death makes life richer. Photo: Supplied

Important conversations: End-of-life doula Relle Hart from Bellbrook says being more informed about death makes life richer. Photo: Supplied

The key to dying in the best possible way we can centres around conversations, planning and living with intention.

That's the view of end-of-life doula Relle Hart.

Relle will join Denis Juelicher from Tender Funerals Mid-North Coast and author Beth Anderson in a Dying to Know Day online talk on August 8 organised by Port Macquarie-Hastings Library Service.

Dying to Know Day is dedicated to starting conversations and community actions around death, dying and bereavement.

Relle says the benefits of these conversations are huge.

She said the sharing gave us a sense this journey held many challenges for everyone.

We also learnt how to step up to those challenges, Relle said, as well as what we were capable of, and how we could better respond to the grief that accompanied the transition from life to death - and beyond that in going on living after a significant loss.

"When our family knows what we want before, during and after our death, they are empowered to support us in the most intimate way, and with the information and learning that is shared during these community conversations, we learn how other people respond to these life and death matters as well," Relle said.

The end-of-life doula is an emerging role in Australia.

Doula is a Greek word, which in a nutshell, means to serve.

End-of-life doulas support people holistically with non-medical support - emotional, practical and existential/spiritual - as well as information, education, planning and coordination.

Relle says we can be more open to talking about death and dying by living with the awareness that death is part of life, and that life is a gift and by participating not only in conversations about death but by getting involved in community events around death.

"There's a whole lot going on in this space, and art is a big part of the work that is being done to bring death more into our awareness and normalising conversations, so there are lots of opportunities for people to be actively involved," she said.

The GroundSwell Project, which is a good starting place, uses the arts to promote resilience and wellbeing through all phases of life.

Relle believes getting more informed about death actually makes life richer and can lend us the opportunity to live more thoughtfully with our end in mind and maybe say the things on our minds to the people we love.

The library's Dying to Know Day special online event begins at 2pm on Saturday, August 8.

Prior registration is essential. People can register on the library's website or call Port Macquarie Library on 6581 8755 for further information.

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