To investigate human relationships to death and ceremony through alternate approaches and technologies

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To investigate human relationships to death and ceremony through alternate approaches and technologies featured image
We sit on a threshold in Australia in the changing relationship to dying and death in the western world. There is a movement to increase death literacy both on an individual and a community level, to enhance community capacity and social capital, to reclaim agency in how we care for our dead. I am a part of the movement for change and this research project has looked at a large number of different aspects of this change and the effects these are having on the space - through the disruptive influences of emerging technologies and approaches. This project is essentially in two parts, looking at both the different approaches to body disposal being suggested and developed in the western world and also the different approaches being taken to death and ceremony. The purpose of this project is to document and understand the different approaches and technologies and look at how they are changing the human relationship to death and ceremony with a view to enhancing the Australian experience.   My key findings include: 1. More focus should be placed on end user outcomes (the family's experience) in the research that is being done into body disposal technologies. 2. There needs to be substnatial research into science behind the vast anecdotal evidence showing that the acts of being in contact with and caregiving for the dead, makes for improved and healthier grief and bereavement outcomes. 3. Specific research is required into the effects on the soil and organisms within the soil that surrounds the burials of bodies that have been embalmed, had temporary preservation done on them and those that contain foreign objects such as pacemakers to contribute to gfive further context to current conversations around integrity of the burial vs. a family's emotional need. 4. Very clear boundaries need to be set around the definition of and roles of a Doula both in Australia and globally. 5. Introduction of micro-credentialing and proficiency accreditations in Australia - this needs to be established as having a limited place within this end of life work meaning that a national standard will be created for Doula training and service provision within the community. 6. Medical communities and facilities need to implement doula-led educational strategies within their organisations with the view to adopt the Doula role into paid positions as non-medical support - they should be an addition to the staff of every hospital and care facility. This should be promoted through partnerships with organisations such as Palliative Care Australia. 7. Experienced Doulas should be included in the teaching courses for nurses and doctors in relation to their awareness and understanding of this role as a complimentary therapy (currently other complimentary therapies have the opportubnity to present in this context in varous programs). Please see my report for more recommendations and the details of my Fellowship report. Keywords: family led funeral, death literacy, death and dying, end of life doula, home funeral care, community capacity, compassionate communities, hospice, palliative care, contemporary funeral industry  

Fellow

Rebecca Lyons

Rebecca Lyons

TAS
2018

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