Friday, March 4, 2022

Taking Ownership of Death

An honest conversation about death is not something many people like to have. But Becky Aud-Jennison of The Death Dialogues Project hopes to change that perspective and “further these conversations globally.”  Part of that mission has turned into a book, Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from the Death Dialogues Project, which released on February 22 by Motina Books. Laura Davis calls the book “luminous” and “filled with hard and tender truths,” while Karen Wyatt, MD, says the book is “transformative” and “shows us that the awe-full journey of grief is unique to each person but is ultimately traveled by everyone.” Becky is hard at work producing more podcast episodes, writing, and living her very full life, so I’m especially grateful that she took the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully.

Christina: Congrats on your book Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from the Death Dialogues Project, which released in February. The Death Dialogues Project is four years old. What made you say, I think it’s time for a book?

Becky: Thank you! I’m thrilled to have this book out into the world. Throughout my life I felt called to encourage a more open dialogue surrounding all things death and during my career advocated for improving death literacy.

While working in clinical settings, the correlation between the less than optimal bedside manner and the “helper’s” inability to deal with death well in any context, especially their own, was obvious to me. I found it disconcerting and not fair to the people who were being cared for, or the helpers who might be avoiding much of what a person is going through because of their own discomfort surrounding death or viewing death as a loss within a win/lose context. There’s a difficulty in shifting from the only “win” being saving someone’s life to understanding that compassionate end of life care is also a “win.”

Understanding emotional and psychological contexts, it was clear to me that exposure to these topics and conversations is required for a societal shift away from death-denial. Thankfully, even since the formation of this project, there has been a wave building of death workers, death talkers, openly grieving people and advocates that I believe is instrumental in some very positive movement. One of the caveats of this book is that the reader is pointed to resources for further exploration. Our project is about celebrating everyone out there who is doing good work in promoting better end of life care, death work, showing up in the aftermath of death and improving literacy surrounding it all.

Originally what is now two books was going to be one. Firstly, I was responding to the repeat inquiry about my own story and how someone can be so mired in death all the time. Then I was going to do discuss common themes surrounding death observed, shared with me, and experienced throughout my career where I’d sat at the bedside of dying folks, experienced personal deaths, and conducted Dignity Therapy with dying individuals, as well as, providing therapy to the grieving. Per my publisher’s request, this has turned into two books. This book is the field notes from my decades of work and hundreds of stories shared with me through The Death Dialogues Project. My next book and then the stars spoke is my memoir through the lens of death and that will be out May 10, 2022.

Read the rest HERE. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

it's a bouncing baby ...


It has happened: Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons has been released and is now available for purchase.

Based on the feedback from the early readers, I’m very excited for this to land in the hands of those it will benefit. 

Who is that? The bigger question is given that we all will interface intimately with death– who wouldn’t benefit from it?

This book is a gentle exploration of all things death and how we can reimagine what we want for ourselves and our loved ones. This read takes you behind the doors of conversations surrounding death and grief that aren’t always spoken out loud. 

This book is not a professional’s oration based on scientific study. Within these pages you will find lessons from the common threads people have shared and professional and personal experience over the past 40 years.

Here is one of the Goodreads reviews:

I've lived, breathed, and written extensively about grief and bereavement for more than five years and was blown away by Becky Aud-Jennison's new release. In the same raw yet gentle approach of her podcast, Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons gives the reader a safe place to sit with the reality that confronts us all.

One of the "truths" about life in The AfterLoss is that not everyone gets it. We learn quickly that the solidarity and compassion from our fellow bereaved are invaluable. Aud-Jennison doesn't shy away from the harsh reality but serves it up with a hot cuppa tea, a hug, and a cozy blanket. Field Notes is my new go-to resource to gift to the newly bereaved and those who love them.

The book begins by looking at society’s treatment of death and explores alternative choices surrounding end of life and death. Not only does this book take you on a walk through the many shadows of grief, but also the ensuing transformation that frequently occurs. 

Understanding the trauma responses we experience surrounding death, and that are especially lurking throughout this pandemic time, there are research-based simple trauma mitigation techniques sprinkled throughout the book as well. Techniques that I have seen work miracles for those greatly suffering. 

Where is the book available? 

Almost everywhere you buy your books. 

If your favorite local bookshop doesn’t have it on the shelves you can still order through them to support local. Of course it’s on the many typical online booksellers including Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble is an indie online resource in the US. Down under they can be ordered through the Book Depository,, Mighty Ape, Fishpond, Booktopia,, and more. 

For some reason the audio book hasn’t shown up on Audible yet, but you can get a copy of the audio book HERE. Read by yours truly. Below is a link to the first chapter of the book that I shared on the podcast.

If you’ve shared a story, this is your book. 

If you’ve experienced death, are afraid of death, are interfacing with people in this terrain, have found yourself not knowing what to say or how to show up in the throes of death, are needing a death and grief ice-breaker … you’ve found a safe haven in these pages. It’s a beautiful gift for when there are no words …

In the previous post will find a link to a short chat between my podcast co-host where we had a “behind the book” discussion.

You will also find a link to the previous podcast episode. 

We are in the midst of an Omicron wave which has NZ, for the first time, experiencing thousands of cases a day. Unfortunately that has us postponing any type of release gathering, but we hope to reconvene for that when and then the stars spoke: a memoir through the lens of death is out May 10th.

In the meantime, please raise a glass or light a candle and help send intentions into the world that this book lands in the hands of those who need it.

Oh, and leaving a review wherever you buy your book is a lovely way to support the book, and in turn, the project.

Thank you deeply for your support. 

All love,