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Roger Woodruff – Formerly Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia. Past Chairman, IAHPC.

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Sally Cant works in Melbourne, Australia and describes herself as ‘a Trainer, Author, Celebrant, Family Death Care Advocate, and a passionate advocate for end of life choices.’

In the introduction, it states this book is meant for the general public as a tool: to start those conversations about death and dying and to have a general understanding of what’s happening in the field of ‘death care.’ But I thought there was a lot more.
She starts with a good discussion of reasons why you should have the conversation and the risks of not having it; I would have liked to hear a little more about how one might deal with poor or bad outcomes. The text is easy to read with a generous use of headings and lots of lists. There follows a quite comprehensive description of all aspects of end of life care, including the many options that ordinary people may not know about. Palliative care gets a good airing, as well as some of its potential shortcomings. She discusses assisted dying, expressing the opinion that she hoped there might be greater individual autonomy when her turn came, but admitting that safeguards were inadequate or impossible at the present time. There is a good section about what happens after the death, which include a number of truths about the funeral industry and what your options are to get round them. Her chapters on grief and bereavement include lists of suggestions for self-care, which I thought could be very useful. Having provided all this extra information, she then revisits ‘having the conversation.’

I think this book fulfils its goal and provides a large amount of information in a manner that could be understood by the average reader. For people who work in palliative care, it provides a pretty good catalogue of the problems that may occur and may help us better deal with them. There are a few small points that refer specifically to local laws, but the great bulk of the book is about human beings and how they interact with death and dying and is pertinent to any developed country.
Roger Woodruff (December 2016)

Joe Sehee – CEO Green Burial Council

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“One of the best guidebooks on how to navigate through the often complicated end-of-life landscape. A must read for anyone with an unwell family member or friend and a great resource for those needing to broach this sensitive subject with elderly parents.”

One Response

  1. Linda Munster
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    Thanks for entrusting me with the opportunity to read and review Sally Cant’s book – “Conversations About Death”. As a relatively new celebrant with a keen interest in this aspect of Celebrancy it was a privilege to be given this opportunity. Coming from a background in nursing and midwifery (20+ yrs experience) and as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (LC) (10 yrs) I have had considerable training in dealing with grief and have also had a wide range of personal experience in this area.

    I found Sally’s book to be well written and very well researched. She offers her own personal commentary and experience in the area of grief counselling and dealing with death alongside those of experienced grief workers and others who have walked a similar journey.

    The underlying message of the book appears to be the importance of having the hard conversations around mortality and preparing for end of life and Sally gently and professionally offers many suggestions for why this is so important and how to go about it. Having had some experience in this field (personally and professionally) it has been my experience that those who have been willing to face this very difficult conversation head on generally manage the process of letting go of the physical with less trauma and greater dignity.

    Sally’s book offers a vehicle through which anyone can begin the process of discussing the unthinkable – our own mortality. Whilst I do not agree with everything Sally has presented in this book (based upon my own personal journey and life experience) I feel that this book offers a valuable resource for anyone interested in working with families who are dealing with grief.

    Sally offers a wide range of resources at the end of the book which can be easily referenced in times of need. The book would make a useful resource for any celebrant interested in working with grieving families as well as individuals who are facing their own personal challenges and wanting to gain a better understanding of what may lie ahead and the options available to everyone in Australia under the Law with regard to dealing with the process of death and dying.

    It is my feeling that it will perhaps be celebrants who wish to work in this field of dying, death, funerals and memorials who may well lead the way in the general community with regard to instigating these types of sensitive conversations within our own communities. It is my opinion that Sally’s book “Conversations about Death” offers a welcome road map for those who may struggle to initiate this type of conversation and would be a valuable resource for anyone facing this difficult reality.

    Thanks for trusting me with reviewing this sensitive and insightful work.

    Kind regards

    Linda Munster
    Civil Celebrant / Funeral Celebrant / Life Celebrant

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