Thursday, 15 November 2012

The first Death Cafe in Australia!

Lisa Liversage, from Nimbin Funeral Services, organiser of the first Death Cafe in Australia


Good Evening Everyone, Thankyou so much for coming to the first meeting of Australia's First Death Cafe.
My Name is Lisa Liversage,
The Reason why I have chose to Kick Start the Death Cafe is because I want there to be a place where people can come and talk or just listen and find our information that re-lates to Death.
The Death cafe is a not for profit organisation.
We rely on Donations for funding.
There is a donation tin up on the front counter of the cafe. All Donations are appreciated.
I would like to share a bit about myself to give you an idea of who i am, and why i am passionate about Death and Death- Care.
I was raised on top of Rockdale Ambulance Station in Sydneys South.
My father jim smith was Deputy Superintendant of the Ambulance, and also started the first Rescue Van for the Ambulance, which was equiped with the first jaws of life.
dad was in charge of a lot of disasters, the hilton bombing in Syd in the late 70's, the Granville train disaster in syd, he would go out to jobs where butchers had got their arm caught in their mincer, or a child has caught his foot under the top of an esculator.
Dad became the trainer for the Ambulance Rescue in the 80's out at rozelle sydney. They still use his teaching books he wrote for Ambulance Rescue Training. All Australian Rescue also use a Lifting device ring that dad invented for rescue, it is called Jims Ring, they stop the stretcher from spining when being Airlifted to Saftey.
I saw a lot and was taught a lot with Dad.
Steve Didge who opened the nite with an Indigenous Blessing. he is an aboriginal elder.

Dad is my biggest inspiration in my life.
When i left school at 16, i went and worked at a Hospital called Calvary Hospital in Sydney. It was a Hospital runned by the Little Company of Mary Nuns for the Dying. Anyone that had less than 3 months or less to live went to Calvary Hospital.
I had many unforgettable memories of my time spent at Calvary Hospital.
I sat with so many paients while they passed away and had  no family around at their time of Death, or their would be family but they wanted me to be their with them as well. They use to say do not get emoitionally involved, it is a bit hard not to, when you spend so much time with them on a daily basis, they become your friend, and when they pass, it was sad. I loved my patients.
I was starting to find Death Curious,
I continued along in the Nursing Field for many years, moved my life to Lismore and went to Southern Cross Uni to do Nursing,
I realise I don't want to do Nursing i want to Mortuary studies, so Again, I move my life to Sydney and studied 2 Years of Mortuary Science. I have not looked back. 
My passion in life is to help individuals that are Dying with  their Families, and  providing a genuine respectful Holistic Death Care Service.
I am now a Qualified Mortuary Technician, Diploma in Funeral Celebrant, Experienced Funeral Director, Certified to Manage and Treat Grief and Trauma, Owner and Manager of Nimbin's Funeral Services, with a Nursing Back Ground spending many years in Pallative Care Wards.
I have worked in Forensic Mortuarys, I have worked as a Government and private Under-Taker for the Police / Coroner, I have learn't Embalming Procedures and also helped worked a Cremator. 
I am a member of Dignity in Dying, Christians Chosing Voluntary Euthanasia, Green Burial Council in America  and with the Death Cafe
I have witnessed many families being struck down by Grief.
I had a call out for a deceased individual out at Solander Point Kurnell, in Sydneys South on a Saturday Afternoon.
Story was, The Deceased was in a gay relationship. The deceased and his partner broke up. The deceased's friends which were 2 girls, took the deceased up to Solander Point in Kurnell for some drinks and to watch the water.
They parked the car, and went for a short walk together along the cliff tops, the 2 girls decided to go back to the car quickly and grab the blankets and drinks.
While the girls returned to the car to grab everything the deceased took a leap over the cliff and died on impact.
Once the police rescue airlifted the Deceased and the forensic police were finished with their job, and the Ambulance had declared Life Extinct, we transported the deceased to St George Hospital for Formal Identification,
The mother entered the mortuary to do the Formal Identification of Her Son, and this woman had lost her other son, 18months earlier to sucide as well.
The woman was a totally shattered woman.
I believe having a Death Cafe in Nimbin will aid Questions, Discussions, Promote Local Support Groups, Displays and Guest Speakers While enjoying a relaxed atmosphere of Light Snacks, Cake and Refreshments.
Iwant to share different aspects of death from my personal experiences and education to bring a new in-sight to the way death is looked upon.
I want to put an end to Old Wives Tales that surround Death.
I want to promote owning your own Death and explore what Death means to us today.
I truely believe if we allow ourselves to be open to Death, we will develop a new respect and out look.
I want to promote Diversity in our conversations in our meetings.
Where our conversations go is entirely up to the guests of the evening,
It will be open and free flowing. 


Gabrielle from Dying with Dignity in Sydney, giving her speech

One thing is for Certain in Life, that is Death and Taxes.
Death has visited us all at some point in our lives.
It might of been a friend or a relative or a pet.
Death is a reality of our life.
It can be expected or unexpected, And can leave you with feelings of hopelessness and in a personal turmoil without reaching any freedom from personal grief.
With Death and Dying we are usually left to figure it out ourselves, relying on Doctors, Police and Funeral Directors to tell us what to do when we are face to face with Death.
Families caring for their own dead has been slowly removed from our modern society.
Todays modern medicine has extended our lives past our natural body clock.
Now most of us die in hospital, surrounded by equipment and people that are unfamiliar to us.
Many of us do not realise there are choices you can make regarding your Advance Health Care Plan and Death Care.
Society will let you Grieve for a while and then at some point you will be forced into letting go when Death is such a personal experience.
We don't talk about Death because it is looked upon as Morbid or to Depressing.
Death has turned out to be one of the biggest taboo's in our society.
I want to bring Death out of the closet and take owner-ship of our Death.
A Good Funeral does not give a damm what people .
If we want a good funeral we need to plan backwards, begining with where we want to be laid to rest,  when you have passed on.
An Old saying I had a patient I nursed at Calvary Hospital said to me, " You Have to experience Death, to experience Life."
I often reflect on those words, and they are so true.
Usually when we talk about Death , it is either usually some-one you know has passed on or you are at a Funeral.
I think people find it hard to talk about Death because it is a reality that we don not want to face, Not knowing what lies beyound Death.
As we know, when we mention Death, it usually raises Mixed Raw Emontions to the surface.
The More we Love, The Harder we Grieve.
An Example how we can make a difference in taking ownership of our death.
You attend a Funeral of a close Relative, they have  lived to a ripe old age, so it was an expected Death, but you were not there when they passed away and you feel there were things you wanted to tell them and you  didn't get the chance to, so you are feeling really down, a bit ripped off.
While you are listening to the Eulogy and the tributes to him, there are a few personal notes they have written and organised  to have them  read at their funeral.
Then one of the messages being read out is to you.
You were left a note letting you know how important you were to them and other personal words of love for you.
Think about this, This is something we could do, we could write little messages to special people in our life and put them away just in case of the inevitable.
Remember Death comes with no Warning, and can come at any time, we cannot hide from Death.
Another reason why we should have the conversation about our death, is, we can make the dying process easier for everyone involved and we can avoid the family disagreements.
Questions to ask yourself................
  1. Does your loved one's know where you want to have your Final Resting Place ?
2. Does Any One in your Family know if you want to become an Organ doner. Your SNOK has the last say when you have passed, even though you might have it on your licence.
3. Have you spoken to your loved one or Family about your Advance Health care if you were in a condition where you need Artifical Hydration or Artifical Ventilation ?
We need to encourage people to talk more openly about dying and Death Care and make plans regarding one's Death Care.
By doing this you are actually helping family and friends when they are trying to make the right decision for your Funeral Arrangements.
So many people have to organise a funeral without knowing the deceaseds wishes.
That is a lot of added stress at a time when you are dealing with Grief.
We all assume Death is something we can put off talking about with family until later.
Not knowing your loved ones wishes can be very Distressing.
Lets Bring this out for a Disscussion.......
1.  Has Any one thought about an Advance Health care Directive or about their Death care and Funeral.
Lee from Leaving Lightly, who produce an eco friendly card board coffin


2. Do you think talking about death and asking questions about Death can helps us plan for our passing ? 

Tonite we are priviledged to have 2 Guest Speakers that have joined us tonite.
We have Gabrielle from Dying with Dignity.
Gabrielle is here to share with us information
on what Dying with Dignity is about.
Lee, Lee is from leaving lightly Cardboard Coffins, from lismore.
Lee is here to share with us information about this Eco-Green Choice of Coffin.

Let me Firstly Introduce Lee from Leaving Lightly.
Thankyou Lee, is there any questions you have for Lee?

Let me now introduce to you gabrielle from Dying with Dignity.
Thankyou Gabrielle, is there any questions you have for Gabrielle ?

I have with me two letters to read from 2 individuals that were unable to make it tonite, but support Nimbin's Death Cafe, The 1st in Australia.
First letter is from Jon Underwood.
Jon is the Founder of the Death Cafe and Lives in the UK.
He writes.........
2nd letter is from Mr Ian Wood, from Christians Chosing Voluntary Euthansaia.

He Writes................

Tonite we have heard some valuable information from Gabrielle, Lee, Jon Underwood and Mr Ian Wood.
We will have a 15 minute break to grab a cuppa or have a cigerette, and we will resume.


I Hope everyone has enjoyed tonights meeting.
I Have some feed-back forms, i ask if you would all fill them out and return them to me.
They are just a feed-back on how tonite went, I forward them back to the UK.
The next death cafe Meeting will be announced soon.
All info can be found at
Cutting the Death Cafe cake


  1. Can't read this intro. Can you do it in black letters?

  2. Nice post. Can you also share something relevant to funeral directors Melbourne.

  3. Are there any other Death Cafe's starting up in Australia?

    As an experienced hospital pastoral care dept manager, with a couple of decades worth of grief work and training, I know we could benefit from having one in Canberra, so I'm thinking of gathering some people to initiate one here.

    1. Hi Clair,

      Yes, there have been a few of Death Cafes in Australia. There have been a couple of Death Cafes in Australia, with Lisa Liversage (above) and Ava Reyerson ( Kim Ryder ( is doing one soon and this looks really good to me. I think their contact details are in their posts if you'd like to get in contact.

      All the best,


  4. I liked the record of the Ghoul and his change is outstanding. Your tale of organic choice Continues to be to Be Designed.

  5. I really like the concept. This is a good news for death care service. I hope that the cafe may have many branches.


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