Re-Imagining Death and Dying 2018-09-04T15:55:37+10:00

Re-Imagining Death and Dying

A weekend conference featuring presenters, speakers, facilitators, doctors, artists and counsellors. Knowledge, expertise and creativity delivered in a fun, supportive environment – this is an experience not to be missed!

Who is this for?

The weekend of ‘Re-Imagining Death and Dying’ is for anyone interested and passionate about LIFE .
For those who are afraid of the Death Part of Life .
For those who feel comfortable with this part of Life.
This weekend is for A N Y O N E alive!

Basic Details.

The weekend was held at the beautiful Glenrock Lagoon, Glenrock, Newcastle with overnight accomodation.

There were caterers onsite to cook beautiful food – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for very affordable prices ($10 – $15), catering for the meat-eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans. Thank you so much to the girls who put in many hours of planning, organising and cooking over the weekend!

What is on offer.

Here are just some of the wonderful presenters who joined us in 2018 with workshops, talks and original art installations … 

Talking Differently About Suicide

Sarah Roffey and Natalia Jerzmanowska

In this workshop, we will open a space for dialogue and reflection on suicidal urges and acts that steps out beyond the dominant explanatory frameworks, which are mostly:

bio-medical, that assuredly connect them to ‘mental health issues’;

or religious, linked to sin and moral weakness.

We will approach the question of our own suicidal thoughts and fantasies: where do they come from? What do they mean? Why is contemplating one’s suicide always considered negative and unwelcome? What is happening in the society that makes such thoughts and actions a necessity for some? Can suicides be prevented and do they have to be?
We will introduce the Alternatives to Suicide Framework and explore this as part of the workshop.

The invitation is to honour and respect one’s feelings and not fear them. To develop one’s own ways of making meaning and own language to speak of experiences. Whilst also to make space for those bereaved by suicides of others.

From Grief - to Peace Island

Garth Ashford

Garth is a grief guide. He assists those who have suffered a loss in their lives to recover, rebuild and readapt. To find their own power from their story.

Nearly 30 years ago, his 19-month-old daughter died in his arms. This journey has led to a program that can assist parents, brothers, sisters and friends the chance to find a level of acceptance and peace.

The journey is similar to that of a sailing adventure. Some winds are favourable; some not. You sail from ‘Grief Island’ to ‘Peace Island’, at your speed. Whatever the winds offer you. To enjoy Peace Island, you need to stop and replenish at three smaller islands on the way: ‘Recovery Island’, ‘Rebuild Island’ and ‘Readapt Island’.

At each stop there are rituals, acknowledgements and learnings all sprinkled with courage. This journey gives you the ability to revive and survive.

Why Is It So Hard To Die in 2018?

Peter Saul

Peter Saul is a senior intensivist in Newcastle NSW. He was involved in writing all the existing guidelines for end of life decision making in NSW, and chaired the committees that designed the statewide forms for recording treatment limitations.

He is currently working with state and local groups to develop web-based and electronic systems for recording conversations with patients about end of life preferences.

Will speak to us about how and why it is so hard to die in the 21st Century.

How we ‘Medicalise’ death, and how to do it differently.

The Bedside Singer

Ruth Boydell

Ruth is, among many other things, a ‘Bedside Singer’.

After her own health challenge in 2016, becoming very aware of her own mortality,
joined the ‘Threshold Choir’ and is here to pass on and teach you the magic of singing /being sung to when on the Threshold of Life and Death.

The workshop will entail learning some of our simple heartfelt songs and to sing for another person. You will experience both singing and being sung to.

From : Our goal is to bring ease and comfort to those at the thresholds of living and dying. A calm and focused presence at the bedside, with gentle voices, simple songs, and sincere kindness, can be soothing and reassuring to clients, family, and caregivers alike.

Love's Last Token: Trace Objects

Genevieve Graham

Genevieve is a Newcastle artist. She studied Fine Art at Sydney Collage of the Arts and is currently working in the arts industry, as well as, undertaking a PhD in Fine Art at Newcastle University. Genevieve uses dark room photographic practices, such as liquid light and cyanotype, to create photographic installations. She is currently researching Trace Objects, the personal items left at graves, and is fascinated by the taboo topic of death. Through her work she hopes to demystify funerary rituals and use artistic discourse to reconceptualise death.

Her research examines Trace Objects which are personal items left at graves that act as markers of identity for the deceased.

Genevieve will be presenting her research on Trace Objects in a talk titled Loves Last Token: Trace Objects. The talk will go for 30 – 45min with a 15 – 10min question time. This will be an informative talk discussing what Trace Objects are, artistic discourse around these objects, a brief history of grave goods and her research and practice.

Hyper Sensitivity Detective

Tania Burt

Will have a stall set up where you can meet and have a consultation.
Using Crystals, Essential oils, mindfulness techniques, intuition and the many modalities I have studied, I study each clients’ full story from conception to now and explore how to help them respond instead of react. Working with people for a short time or long time, one on one or in groups.

When we work with our emotions and explore how our mind is ours to control amazing things can happen. Our bodies are amazing, we don’t have to tell them how to do their job all we need do is listen, and support them.

Working with essential oils, the power of scent, the chemistry, and the vibration of each oil, is what I do to help people explore the natural cycles of Life.

We can use oils in ceremony; massage and aromatic or topical support to allow what is to be.

Yoga Sessions

Louise O’Connell

Amazed by the benefits of yoga for a back injury a decade ago, Louise investigated yoga and meditation practices on three continents. The yoga bug bit and she left corporate life in Australia in 2013 to teach and study around the world.

Louise is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist, with 1200+ hours trained in yoga therapy, Krishnamacharya classical yoga style, Vinyasa and Ashtanga.

Yoga therapy uses yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and guided imagery to improve the individual’s experience of mental and physical health. The holistic focus of yoga therapy encourages the integration of mind, body, and spirit for optimum health.

“For me, yoga is about focusing on sensations in your body through movement and breath. This brings awareness of ourselves – and therefore mindfulness – both on and off the mat. I get such joy from yoga and I love to share this through teaching others.”

Midwifing Death, Home-Vigils and Authentic Funerals

Lola Rus-Hartland

A workshop that takes you through the ‘ins and outs’ of the last days, After Death Body Care, the working of a cooling plate and the creating of an authentic (Home) funeral.

Lola is from Dutch origins. Born and raised in the Netherlands, she left her home country for ‘some travels’ at age 25, to never permanently return, arriving in Australia 4 years later, meeting her husband and staying.

Lola’s own experience with Death has shaped her dealings with the theme, so often grappled with in modern society – the world over, particularly  in Western Societies.

Lola received her own life-limiting diagnosis at 24 (and has since proven the medical profession wrong). Friends died during later teen years and early twenties as a result of AIDS, suicide, accidents and murder. And three years into her marriage, her husband died suddenly also, while she was one month pregnant.

It became very clear that Life is a ‘fickle’ thing.

Now, at 55, as an End of Life Consultant, Lola facilitates Holistic Processes around Death and Dying.

From Meaningful Companionship and counselling for the patient and their families, helping them to Make Meaning in those last months, weeks and days, to ‘Walking the Dying Home’.  Followed by a home-vigil, (home) funeral and grief-counselling if and when wanted.

Lola is passionate about keeping Death and Dying a family affair.

Lola is a qualified Social Worker, Counsellor, End of Life Consultant, Death Doula, Educator and Home-Funeral Director.

Death Meditation Workshop

Justine O’Brien and Emme K.

Justine is a ‘companioning’ counsellor supporting people who are facing major life transitions, experiencing disability or illness, journeying towards end of life, or caring for a friend or family member. Having trained and practised in the UK, after moving back to Australia she experienced first hand the spectre of her own death in the form of a heart condition. Since then her work has revolved around offering a ‘healing presence’ to those at the end of life and going through major life transitions

Emme has faced death through illness and violence in her own life, and beginning in childhood had many people who she was close to die in a variety of ways. Healing and griefwork is of high value to her. She is an art therapist who has also trained in a variety of creative and experiential therapies.

Emme facilitates experiences of transformation, transition and healing using heart-based creativity.

“Living Fully in the Face of Death”

If our lives (or those of someone important to us) were to be cut short, what would be most important to us in the time that is left? What would we most want to do? What would we desire to bring to completion? Who would we want to connect or reconnect with? What unfinished business with people would we want heal or let go of? How would we fully live in the face of death?

In this creative, experiential workshop we will go on a journey of opening our hearts, facing our mortality, and gaining insight into what is of most value to us in our lives and in our deaths, or in the deaths of people who mean a lot to us. We will integrate that into our lives so that they are enriched and have deeper meaning.

In facing death, knowing we all will die someday, we will be able to more fully live.

Writing Mortality

Jessica Raschke

Facing death is one of life’s greatest challenges. Whether it’s our own death or the death of a loved one, our sense of mortality has a profound impact on our lives. While we might understand that life and death go hand in hand, many of us still fear its imminence. This three-hour workshop with writer and artist Jessica Raschke will use creative writing tools and processes to reflect on dying, death, loss, grief and bereavement.

Jessica Raschke is a writer and artist from the Southern Highlands in New South Wales. Her art and writing have been featured in a range of publications and spaces in Australia. Her most recent installation, Wisdom Weaving, as part of the 2018 Hillview Sculpture Biennial.

Jessica is infinitely curious about how people generate a greater sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Her writing workshops are designed to help each person see this more clearly for themselves. Her website, The Soul Spectrum (,

is an ongoing labour of love that features long-form conversations with people living soulful lives.

The Death Letter Project

Tina FiveAsh

Tina FiveAsh is a photographer, deathie, and co-creator of The Death Letter Project, a collection of handwritten letters by diverse Australians, reflecting on: “What is death? What happens when we die?”. The letters, featured alongside photographic portraits of the writers, are the focus of a website ( and a forthcoming book which aims to inspire and engage readers to re-examine their beliefs about death, and reflect on mortality.

In this workshop, Tina explores the background and making of the project and then poses the question to you – “What is death? What happens when we die?”.

Advance Life Care Planning

Merran Cooper

Dr Merran Cooper is a doctor, physiotherapist and death midwife. She has cared for her husband and two best friends through their long illnesses and good deaths. Her mission now as founder and CEO of Touchstone Life Care TLC is keeping people out of hospital, by enabling them to make informed decisions ahead of time, act on those decisions and drive their own healthcare. If you don’t make decisions about your end of life, they will be made for you. Merran has seen the pitfalls of poor, unshared or missing Advance Care Directives and will teach in this workshop the practicalities of Advance Care Planning. You will also learn to help others discover and document their own unique wishes. Bring your computer or smartphone and you will leave the workshop with your own complete shareable and enforceable Advance Care Directive, free of charge.

Grief and Poetry

Elham Day

Elham Day is a death care worker, counsellor and grief advocate who works supporting families across two palliative care services in Queensland. With years of diverse experience working alongside families and communities, Elham is particularly interested in how soulful and participatory approaches to death and dying can animate individual and collective experiences of grief, and life in the wake of loss.

Giving Sorrow Words : The Poetry of Grief. In this experiential workshop, participants will explore the rich history of grief poetry – odes of invitation, written across many centuries by mystics and writers who have petitioned for a turning toward, a drawing near, a learning to stay with the shadowy, uncertain and often acute experience of grief. We will also explore how our relationship to grief and death may be expanded, beyond the personal, out into the communal and more than human world – remembering the state of inter-being which exists between all life. No prior writing experience is necessary, and may prove to be of benefit. Please bring a notebook and pen.

Shroud Making – Cover as though to Protect

Leonie Watson

Leonie is an Art Therapist/Counsellor with special training in Grief and Loss. A Textile Designer with a passion for natural fibres and lots of storytelling in the fabric. The clothes and textiles we wear every day tell a story of how we feel, what we are telling the world on any given day. She has worked extensively with people of all ages with trauma backgrounds where they weave the threads of life together. Leonie’s interest in death and dying started 30 years ago when she looked after people at the end of their life. Listening to these stories, she could see the fabric of their lives in a never-ending thread, that joined other threads in a blanket of warmth and love.

Leonie believes that the texture of life can be told through stories that are imprinted on cloth. Making a shroud can be as easy as having a  sheet that is wrapped around the deceased, or as magnificent as a hand-stitched canvas. 

Touch, sight, smell and listening with our inner voices guiding the stories we want told. Even if a deceased is going into a coffin, they can still be shrouded. The final act of dressing and covering a loved one can be one of love, courage and humility.

Please bring any favourite fabrics, sewing implements, old favourite clothes to be cut up, buttons, ribbons, shells, feathers, paints – even if you only do a small square of fabric you will have started gathering your threads of life together.

There will also be a workshop to inform you about the ins and outs of making your own coffin. Learn all about the materials and sizes and the legalities of this beautiful way of sending off a loved one.

Holistic and unique, end-of-life support and care for people and their families.​

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