LIFE AND DEATH CHOICES: Margo Knox and Jancine Hurst hope the Gold Coast Death Care Collective will become a resource base to help people navigate their final days, death and legacy.
LIFE AND DEATH CHOICES: Margo Knox and Jancine Hurst hope the Gold Coast Death Care Collective will become a resource base to help people navigate their final days, death and legacy.

New group talks life, death and dignity

THE newly formed Gold Coast Death Care Collective wants us all to take control of our final days of life, our death and how we are remembered by ridding ourselves of the taboo around discussing death and dying.

Death celebrant Margo Knox and death doula Jancine Hurst have held "community conversations" in Chirn Park, Southport one Sunday a month for three months in an effort to awaken such discussions, and change the way we think about death.

By simply talking about the subject, discussing the options, what we do and don't want and how to achieve that, the pair said many people's fears vanished.

Now 70, Margo said she had taken up the role of celebrant after losing her own partner about 15 years ago, and discovering first-hand just how much was involved in the whole funeral and grieving process, and how little we know about it until we find ourselves in the situation - often at our most vulnerable.

"Your whole world is turned upside down because that person's not there anymore," she said.

"People worry that they want to say goodbye 'properly' but they might not know what that person wanted, or that it doesn't have to be expensive, and sometimes the less fancy a funeral or memorial is, the nicer it is.

"I want to see that personalisation given back to the process."

There is no right or wrong way to deal with death, both women said, except that the person dying should be allowed to do so with dignity.

And whether you want a traditional church funeral, something directed by a funeral home, by family or friends, the important thing was to know you have choices, the options to reflect your life values, and the documents which help to make those choices become reality.

Margo said she had held memorial services in homes, parks, backyards, surf and RSL clubs.

Live wakes are also becoming more popular, Jancine said, celebrating the person's life, sharing photos and memories while they are still alive rather than paying respects after their death.

She said it was the Baby Boomers who were at the forefront of these notions of "doing things differently", as they had been throughout their lives.

"A hundred years ago or more, death was very much part of society, part of our culture, but it became quite institutionalised as a result of contagious diseases such as TB, and has remained that way," Jancine said.

"We are re-pioneering the way we see death and dying, bringing it back to the community, and encouraging people to have open conversations with family and friends.

"We want to set up an NGO as a resource base on everything from how you continue to live well, palliative care and community supports available, to navigating wills and Active Care Plans, your Statement of Choices, enduring power of attorney, to loss and bereavement," Jancine said.

Margo and Jancine will be at the hall, 19 Kerr St, Chirn Park, again on Sunday, November 4, and hope to branch out next year to conversations at Paradise Point, Currumbin and Mount Tamborine.

To find out more, email or phone Margo on 0409476803 or Jancine on 0412469520.

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