While death is a part of life, talking about death is often a taboo subject. One that many people feel is too morbid. It’s not something I personally have a problem doing, but I understand it can be troubling for some. That’s why I’m now learning to talk about death, thanks to an online course called Dying2Learn, run by CareSearch and Flinders University. I think it’s worthwhile to share my experience and knowledge with you along the way. Please note that this is an independent point of view. The course providers have not asked me to write this series.
“Death is a part of life, so talking about death should be part of life too. Talking about death doesn’t have to be morbid – instead it may turn out to be a transformative and life-affirming process.” – Dying2Learn
Why I’m learning to talk about death
I’m doing this course for both personal and professional reasons. Personally, I’ve always been quite “matter of fact” when discussing death and dying. It’s probably because I was at my grandmother’s bedside when she died when I was 14.
In the last 18 months, I have had quite a few older members of my family die, including my dad. I’ve been told by other members of my family that I’m too blunt. I also have a dark sense of humour when talking about death and dying, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. So, I’m looking forward to learning how to talk about death in a more compassionate, but normalising way. I want to make these conversations more comfortable and death a more positive experience.
Professionally, I want to make sure that I’m giving Carers Circle readers (that’s you), comprehensive information on how to help our ageing parents. Sadly, all of our parents will die at some point, so I thought it was important to have information to support you through the process. I wanted to make sure I’m speaking from a place of knowledge and empathy – not just my personal experience.
I also thought it would a good opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and some experts in the field that could potentially contribute to Carers’ Circle in the future. I’m one of around 1,400 people from around Australia doing the course this year. Many participants work in palliative care, nursing, aged care and the funeral industry. Some are also carers, informal carers, social workers or death doulas (we’ll learn more about death doulas in week one).
How I’m learning to talk about death
I’m doing the Dying2Learn online course offered through Open Learning and run by CareSearch and Flinders University. It’s a free course that aims to enable people to be more comfortable talking about death and dying by educating them about it and how we’re affected by it. The ultimate goal it appears is to empower people to make death a dying a more positive experience.
Please note enrollments are now closed for this year. The purpose of this article is not to get you to do the course necessarily, but share the experience and knowledge with you. You could potentially do it next year if you’re interested. At this point, I couldn’t tell you how worthwhile it is or not – that will come in future articles.
The course goes for five weeks and I’ll look to distill the key points I found useful into regular articles for you. I also think the content will filter into other articles for the future. This is great as death isn’t a topic that is going to go away. Wish me luck!
Some useful links
The CareSearch Project provides palliative care knowledge for health professionals, people needing palliative care and their families, and for the general community. It has two main websites, the CareSearch website and the palliAGED website.
Dying2Learn website that provides information about the course – https://www.caresearch.com.au/CareSearch/tabid/2868/Default.aspx
Carers’ Circle article on Guide to palliative care – what you need to know – https://carerscircle.com.au/2020/06/21/guide-to-palliative-care-what-you-need-to-know/