The Kiwi Coffin Club

Love the way these baby-boomers are rethinking the end, turning old ideas on their head, the way they always have – while making friends and tap-dancing.

Thanks to my dear friend, writer Katie Delaney, for sharing this.

Too much or not enough pain relief?



Heard the tail-end of a report on the radio today, which said access to morphine for end of life pain relief  is tightening world-wide. This, at a time when we also hear governments  are concerned access to addictive drugs such as morphine is too easy. We need to get the balance right.

A World Health Organisation report of August 2017 says:

  • Each year, an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care, 78% of them people live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Worldwide, only about 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it.
  • Overly restrictive regulations for morphine and other essential controlled palliative medicines deny access to adequate pain relief and palliative care.

Book review: The Museum Of Words


When I got back from my recent travels in country NSW with family, I found this posting to her followers from Susan Wyndham. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Susan. The genre of reflecting on death and what it means, continues to grow.

From Susan: “You might be interested in The Museum of Words, a beautiful memoir by Australian writer Georgia Blain, who died of brain cancer last December. Here’s my review. If you don’t know her work, I highly recommend her earlier books, including her first memoir, Births Deaths Marriages, and her final novel, Between a Wolf and a Dog, which by coincidence was about a woman with brain cancer.”


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. 


A great description of palliative care

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Image courtesy of Meredith Gaston, whose joyous work can be found at

Palliative care:

  • Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
  • Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
  • Intends to neither hasten nor postpone death
  • Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
  • Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.

I was given this great insight into palliative care in a workshop recently – thank you Therese S!

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.

At her window


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It’s easy to miss the practical companioning aspect to the care of the dying in our modern, acute-care oriented health system. 

Creativity and Life coach Helen Carmichael lives in a Bondi flat with a view over that iconic Sydney beach and she watched from her window as an elderly neighbour lay dying in the street. The neighbour had left her house but hadn’t got far before suffering what appeared to be a heart attack.

Helen knew her by sight but didn’t have a stronger connection than this.  Someone had called the ambulance and paramedics had arrived soon after and attempted to revive the dying woman.

“It was a very busy scene and there were people everywhere, everyone rushing to do something.  A nurse who had been attending to the woman was on the phone talking intently,” said Helen.

Helen’s one regret was that no one stopped and actually sat with her neighbour while she was dying, since all the medical authorities were so busy.

“I kept wishing that someone would just stop what they were doing and sit with her. No one sat with her while she was dying even though this was the most important thing to do. 

“So despite the bustle of people around her, she died completely alone.”

“I thought about going down and sitting with my neighbour but then decided, rightly or wrongly, against it because of the number of people already there and the level of chaos.

“I felt my presence would merely add another element to the mix because my behaviour would be perceived as “getting in the way” of the others and thus add to the already high degree of tension.  Plus it was obvious that my neighbour had already died.  I was really conscious that I didn’t want to die in circumstances like these.”

Helen lamented the contrast between this and a very different story.

“I have a friend who recently returned from Papua New Guinea. A whale had beached on a shore. A young girl came and sat on the beach with the whale. She didn’t rush around trying to save it. She stayed with it the whole time, singing to it until it died, even though that took a day and a night.”

Helen wished her neighbour could have had the experience the whale had.

To find out more about Helen’s work go to