It Takes All Of Us.

At the Ballarat Dying to Know Day 2019 Event Jodie and Tamara will share the way the Downey family, with help from close friends, honoured the lives of John and Marg at funerals 30 years apart.
What the family would most like to share is how planning and running a send-off for someone you love with minimal involvement from the mainstream funeral industry is a truly meaningful achievement. The presentation will also describe how the impact on all who attended and participated in both funerals was healing and profound.

Sharing oysters at Dad's burial, December 1988

Sharing oysters at Dad's burial, December 1988

Participants will have the opportunity to join in facilitated conversations about before, during and after a funeral so that they can share their ideas and experiences with others attending the event.

The experience of being part of Dying to Know Day 2019 is both life affirming and very challenging.  Our motivation for holding an event this year stems from feedback from those who attended and participated in Mum’s funeral in January, comments like:

“It wasn’t like any other funeral”; 

 “It was so personal, so unique and so much your mum”;

“I didn’t know you could run a funeral yourself”

Comments such as these made us feel we could share the story of how running Mum and Dad’s funerals ourselves has helped our family and friends with their grief.  We also thought that sharing our story may assist others to plan and organise a DIY funeral, if they have that inclination. At the same time, the process of preparing our Dying to Know Day 2019 event has brought into relief the pain of our loss which at times has felt somewhat overwhelming.  

Preparing the hall for Mum's service, January 2019

Preparing the hall for Mum's service, January 2019

We feel privileged to share our experience, both as sisters grieving for our mum this year, but also to provide a local opportunity for rich and meaningful conversations with other people about death and dying.  We are blessed to be supported by close networks of friends and colleagues who have grief and bereavement expertise. These people, who will help facilitate table discussions on the day, are working as a team with us to prepare our 8th August presentation.  The advice of these very wise practitioners has helped enormously:  “Allow the tears, honour the emotion, give people who will be in the room the chance to see that it’s ok to grieve”.  

It has been our experience that conversations about dying, caring and/or grieving are often limited or cut short because people get worried that such conversations are too hard to have.  The It Takes All of Us theme is so relevant to us in 2019 as we are finding the strength to create a more caring community that can give grief the space to be and allow healing.

Story by Jodie and Tamara Downey