Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore said “it is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”
Demystifying death was the topic for discussion on Tuesday.
People attended sessions around Bendigo for Dying to Know Day where they held conversations about about end of life care, death and loss.
Remembrance Parks Central Victoria’s Joanne Trickey said that when death does happen families who have discussed options have a less stressful time.
“Today is about getting people talking about death and (funeral) services so that when it does happen it is not a huge catastrophic thing,” she said.
“If you have discussed it with your family it’s not going to be a huge stress.
“There will be some stress but you can minimise it.”
Ms Trickey said the way funerals and memorial services were held had changed in recent years. It is now more of a celebration.
“I had a lady ask me why there has to be a coffin. I said ‘there doesn’t, you don’t have to do that’. I have seen people with no coffin,” she said.
“I have also seen services where people sit in a circle around the coffin. It’s horses for courses.
“We have moved away from traditional religious funerals and it is now a lot more about life celebration.”
This year is the third year Bendigo has hosted Dying to Know sessions.
At Eaglehawk Cemetary, RPCV held sessions where people could talk about funeral options, inspect coffins and even tour the crematorium.
“This is first time had this out here. We wanted to take out that fear of the crematorium,” Ms Trickey said.
“On the whole, people said it has lessened their fear which is a nice thing.”
In Bendigo, Bendigo Health Integrated Palliative Care Services held a question and answer session for people.
“The idea is to get the conversation started by making people think what they want towards end of life,” nurse practitioner candidate Anita Wild said.
“In Australia, talking about death is a bit of a taboo topic, so we are trying to make sure people have got plans in place.
“If you want to do something special – what is it?”
Because as Albus Dumbledore said: “To the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Control your own farewell
Radio journalist and author Lisa Herbert believes funerals can be fun.
She said events like Dying to Know Day were helping change people’s attitudes to death and funerals.
“People want to take control of how they are farewelled,” she said. “Rituals are changing. We used to have very dark and gloomy things with long masses but you can totally put the fun in funeral.
“It’s not for everyone but there are options.”
Herbert wrote The Bottom Drawer Book – a workbook that helps people create a death action plan.
Laced with humour it encourages thought and understanding of a topic that doesn’t have to be dark or confronting.
“Funny things happen at funerals. I’ve been to one where a pallbearer slipped and fell into the grave,” she said.
“Decades ago people didn’t talk about (death action plans) but it is good to see people realising there are other options.”