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Dying to know day helps us talk about this life transition

Republished from Mirage News July 19th, 2019

So far there are 605 events organised for Dying To Know Day throughout Australia on Thursday August 8th – a day dedicated to activating conversations about this important topic. Without these conversations, many of us are dying in a way which is not consistent with our values or wishes.

Kim Somerville is a Death Doula and she says so often, people feel ill-equipped to help their loved ones when they’re dying and so by encouraging death literacy and providing a space to talk about end of life plans, this day can help all of us deal with death in a far better manner.

In her role as a Death Doula, Kim says it’s so important to support the individual and their loved ones through the final months, weeks and days of life – right up until the time death occurs: "While it is more exciting to celebrate a person’s first breath, it is just as important to comfort their last,” says Kim.

Having worked as an Enrolled Nurse in Palliative Care for 15 years at Calvary Hospital in Kogarah, Kim says she’s always felt comfortable around death and caring for those approaching the end of their life. She says: “Providing support to the person directly and their loved ones is something I have loved immensely. I view the final stages of life to be extremely precious and sacred, and I am always honoured to be welcomed into that close unit at such a raw and emotional time.”

Dying To Know Day dedicated to this important topic

Kim says she’s so happy we have dedicated a day to such an important topic and she hopes people will be able to talk about death and this will alleviate some of their fears around it. As she says: “A doula’s support can relieve stress and burdensome tasks from the family and gives the dying individual psychological, spiritual and emotional support during the process. We are here to ensure that individuals and their families do not feel alone or isolated.”

How can we prepare for death?

Kim explains that death is a situation where we cannot be completely prepared even though it is a natural and unavoidable part of life. “Many people have not had much experience with people close to them dying, and because of this there is often a lot of fear, questions and uncertainty,” she explains.

“My role is to be a non-medical presence for the dying person, as well as their family and loved ones. I provide support, education, compassion, and options, allowing the individual to have their death unfold in alignment with their wishes. I believe every person should feel safe, supported and guided during this important transition,” she adds.

Whether you or your loved one are planning for a home death, or a death within a hospital or aged care facility, Kim will work with you to create a calm and peaceful environment for this time.

“In my time working in palliative care, I really wished I could just sit down with the families and have a conversation with them. I could see the issues and I knew I could help so that’s how I’ve ended up in this role,” she explains.

Dying To Know Day aims to start these conversations

Kim adds: “Now, in my role as End of Life Doula, I can facilitate open conversations around the end of life so we can make plans and this eases stress, anxiety, and confusion, and allows for a sense of peace and comfort knowing the discussions have been had. We can work together to ensure all your legal documents are up to date which ensures all your care wishes are fulfilled and known such as the person’s Advanced Care Directive etc.”

“I would love to share my experience and knowledge with you, enabling a holistic approach to the end of life. My mission is to help others recognise death as a natural part of life that can be a very special and beautiful experience,” she explains.

Dying To Know Day is for everyone

You can join in by attending an event near you – or you could host one! There are already 605 events organised throughout Australia. If you’d like to find one near you, simply visit the Dying To Know Day website here.

If you’d like to book a session with Kim Somerville, you can make an online booking at NurseWatch’s booking platform here.

KIM’s QUALIFICATIONS

Certified End of Life Doula, Preparing the Way with Helen Callanan

‘Deathwalker Training’, The Natural Death Care Centre with Zenith Virago

Member of The Australian Doula College

Member of The National Death Advocacy Network

First Aid Certificate

Public Liability Insurance

Police & Working with Children Checks