Now that the funeral is over

Margaret Rice Good Grief and Doris Zagdanski My Grief Assist

Introducing Doris Zagdanski, who works with one of the largest funeral providers in Australia. She is also the author of many books about grief.

Doris is currently giving a lot of thought to that most difficult of times – when the funeral is over.

“After the funeral we shut the door and everyone’s life is supposed to go back to normal. But it often doesn’t. That’s when grieving people often need the most support, when the busyness of the funeral is over and they’re left on their own.

“How can we make that better? It’s a challenge for all of us.”

Doris has started a webpage called My Grief Assist.

She is also author of the book “Now that the Funeral is Over – the common sense guide for grieving people.” (First published in 1993, to be reprinted in 2018)

Doris’s other books are:

Something I’ve Never Felt Before

Stuck for Words: What to say to someone who is grieving

What’s Dead Mean? How to help children cope with death

When Pets Die: It’s alright to grieve

Teenagers and Grief.


Wow! Would you dare host one of these dinners?

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Photo by Amanda Ringstad

I’m wondering: would I be game enough to host one of these dinners? My family are coming over for dinner tonight…..

Thanks Susie P. for letting me know about this fascinating conversation starter.




Facebook etiquette when someone dies

by Rachel Thompson, Mashable.

When someone you love passes away, turning to Facebook can be a profoundly helpful way of processing that loss and expressing your grief. But, for the deceased’s nearest and dearest, social media can be deeply overwhelming and upsetting in the immediate aftermath and even the long after a person’s death.

Read more of this valuable insight at:


Thank you Elaine Searle for this one. I’ve shared this from Elaine’s Facebook page: 

A Personal funeral with Eliane Searle. 


The grey cat

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Image courtesy of 

Had coffee with social commentator Andrew Denton on the weekend to discuss the good death. We disagree on a lot of things – quite fiercely – and at times the argument got very heated. But he said something beautiful, which I do agree with.

“If depression is a black dog, then grief is a grey cat.”

Thank you Andrew!

Letting go – there’s no end to it.

by Tony Doherty 

We are never more human than when we are grieving. A strange claim? Perhaps that statement even sounds a little harsh, unfeeling. Grief can be excruciating. It is almost always accompanied by pain.We try to avoid it – even avoid thinking about it. But stop and consider something deeper for a moment. Grief is the other side of love.

If we love deeply, it is deeply painful to let go.

And yet ‘letting go’ is an inevitable and continuous process in the journey of life.

We let go our childhood.

We let go our adolescence – with all its pimples and self-doubt.

We let go our single life – if we move into committed relationship.

We sometimes have to let go our work – with unemployment, and displacement

We let go our home – the place that has shaped us.

Then there are the biggies.

– to let go our parents – sometimes in death, sometimes into aged care;

– to let go our children from home – if they ever leave??

– to let go our spouses sometimes – with death or divorce

Then inevitably we let go our previous selves. Perhaps our sight gets a little blurry, our hearing a little less acute, our bodies a little less flexible. The changes creep quietly into our days and frequently with little notice.  Ever heard the jokey observation? The three stages of life are – youth, middle age and ‘Wow, you’re looking well!’. Even our friends dodge the truth.

Letting go is hard. Holding on is harder.

Sometimes it seems to me life’s journey is a continual process of letting go.

Something like a long river of releasing one thing after another.

If that be so – we had better learn to swim.

It is a river that can have dangerous rapids and jagged rocks.

You don’t drown by falling into the water. You drown by staying there.

Given the accelerating pace of change, is there any surprise so many are gripped with fear of drowning.

One of the dramatic correctives to this merry-go-round-on-steroids culture, is the ancient wisdom -that we all grow ‘by subtraction’. The arithmetic of our culture is that ‘accumulation is king’. Consuming is the path to satisfaction.

Consider the opposite: perhaps the secret of well-being, of growing, of feeling free is: letting go.

Embracing the practice of letting go is a most difficult and daunting exercise. It can also be an exhilarating one. It applies to our emotions as well as our possessions. 

Letting go of the desire to be in control; to be always right, to have the last word, to be better than others. It is only by stripping yourself of the useless, non-essential baggage of your life that you can live with a sense of well-being.

Perhaps the wisdom lies in swimming. Remember the day you learnt to swim.

Only when you allowed yourself to trust the water, let go the side of the baths, and realise that your body could float, did the marvel of swimming became real.

Letting go and trusting our life is one of the great lessons of this winding river in which we swim.

Read more of  Tony’s wisdom at his blog “Breaking Bread Together”.

Tony and Ailsa Piper are the author’s of the wonderful book The Attachment.




Congratulations Noelene!



Noelene graduates today at the Liverpool Hospital Palliative Care Volunteer training program. It’s a great program run by great people. She receives her certificate from Janeane Harlum, the area Palliative Care Manager and Alex Huntir, of Palliative Care NSW.

Remembering mothers today

IMG_7574 (1)It’s Mother’s Day in Australia – a chance to reflect on all the lovely mothers who have gone before us. I’m loving seeing my friends tributes splashed across social media. I love especially the photos of women taken so recently that I could swear they are still with us.

In many ways they are, since they live on in those they leave behind. And as we mature to take the place of elders ourselves, little things they say and did come back to remind us not only of who they were – but that they are still here.

I gasped with surprise when I first saw this photo of me with my mother. It was passed on to me by my godmother, Auntie Joan, only recently, just before she died. I had never before seen a photo from my early childhood of just Mum and me. I’m from a large family, and blessed with a twin sister and another sister exactly a year older. So the mother- baby daughter pics are always a tumble of Mum and three, if not more, little people – great photos but in a very different way.

There was another surprise in this image. It captures looks and qualities not usually seen in photos of either of us. It is as though the photo shows the way Joan saw us. And that was another unexpected gift.

So when I hold the photo I see Mum, but I feel Joan. Happy Mothers Day to you both.