What kind of work do you do and why do you do it?
I am an end of life doula, a birth doula, a women's group facilitator and trainer and an actor. All the work I do is about both purpose and contribution. I made a decision to live my life from my hearts callings, all this work calls me and all my skill sets cross over.
What is your most memorable experience of this work?
The smiling tears. When you have served another human well.
Do you have any tips on how someone could develop their personal relationship with their mortality/death/dying?
Talk about it with anyone who is willing to have the conversation. The more we normalise the topic the easier it will be to have a healthy relationship with living, part of that relationship is facing our own death.
What are you Dying to Know?
What you really want for your personal end of life experience. How can myself and others who work in this area better serve you.
If you could re-write/redesign/redevelop an aspect of the Australian way of death what would it be?
Make it more community based and person care orientated. Caring for our dying and coming together to do so could be a way of celebrating life and the normalcy of death. Death still feels hidden away in this country. I believe it's a big part of what keeps people in fear of it.
What’s the best funeral you’ve ever been to, and why?
A huge party before the person departed. It was a celebration of a life and all the lives that had come together during her life. I believe this is an incredibly joyful and healing way of doing things.
Assuming you have one, what will your deathbed scene be like?
A celebration. A love nest. A place where I can be with those I love most and we can call in my transition gently. I want lots of singing and hugging and laughter.
What songs will be played at your funeral?
All you need is love
What is your best advice when people remark “I don’t know what to say”?
You don't always have to say something. Just be present. Be there. Be fearless. Come from your heart and the ancient wise person that lives deep within us all. Sometimes I just hold their hands look them in the eye, breathe and say 'what do you want to say. When you don't know what to say it might be because you are being presented with a moment to just listen.
Is writing about death and dying morbid?
It doesn't feel that way to me. I want everyone I know to know they can come to me to talk about this natural part of life. We are all going to die. Running from it can effect how we live deeply, it can cause us to run in fear. I feel called to offer this work my gentleness. I feel like I am somewhere I am supposed to be when I do and write about this work.
What’s your view on death being taboo?
I think that people need the most love in both birth and death. The coming and the going. How they are treated when they enter this world will effect the way they live their lives and how they are treated on the way out will effect the way they pass over. No subject that every human needs to face should ever be taboo. We are in this together. We all need to receive deep and open love when we are going through this inevitable transition. Sometimes I think death being a taboo is an over culture construct that has become part of the economy of death. If we keep it hidden away someone is able to over charge us for something we know very little about.
Imogen Bailey is an Ambassador for Dying to Know Day 2017 and will be MC at the Dying to Know Day event at Federation Square, Melbourne.
To learn more about her work as an End of Life Doula, visit: www.honouringheart.com