Sun Drews is a Funeral Director who is rethinking that way we approach end of life care. Although she is at the start of her journey, her experience as a Funeral Director has convinced her that we need a cultural shift around death and dying. For many people, the experience of a loved one’s death can be a disjointed and confusing time. Sun’s observation is that people get passed through a disjointed system with little guidance or warning of what they might expect, or how decisions they make early on in that path may affect their later choices.
At each stage in the journey, people are forced to retell their story to service providers who have never spoken to each other or have not worked together. This places many challenges on the people going through the experience. Her goal is to ensure people have a better idea of what to expect as they navigate this challenging time. Death is a natural part of our lives, yet so few of us talk about it. Few of us plan for death or know what to expect or what we might do if a loved one were to pass away.
In our conversation, Sun and I flirted with the idea of death doula’s but she pointed out that we tend to create professionals or experts for roles that previously existed within communities or within families. It is an important observation to consider, and it made me think about the possibility that many of the solutions to our problems may lie in how we think about and construct community living or family life. With the rise of isolation, there is a drive to revisit communities and spaces like churches. We have distanced ourselves from these types of communities and in the process, we have alienated ourselves from common experiences like death and birth. What if we spent some time familiarizing ourselves with these common activities? What if we were more open about death, dying and grieving?
The most disruptive thing with Sun’s work is just using the word death and being able to call it death instead of using euphemisms. She often finds herself correcting people when they say, “if I die”. She is often reminding people that it is about when you die. We will all die, and Sun is asking us to have an honest conversation about something that is normal, natural and common. Her quest to have these honest conversations about death and dying will hopefully impact our norms, practices and habits.
Sun’s favourite quote: What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Find Sun on Twitter: @sunoutloud