LIVING WELL, DYING WELL - by HERMIONE ELLIOTT
Why do we prepare so well for birth, yet give so little attention to preparing for death? And why is it that death always comes as a shock, when it is the only thing in life that is certain? Shouldn't the way we go out be just as important as the way we come in? And how can I make a difference?
These are the questions that led wellness coach and counselor, Hermione Elliott to establish Living Well, Dying Well, a registered charity in Lewes, East Sussex, to shed light on how to accept, plan and prepare practically, emotionally and spiritually for the end of life. "What I came to realize," Hermione wrote in Subud World News, "is that death is so unknown, we don't even want to talk about it. And this really increases the fear. So many people have never encountered someone who is dying, have never witnessed death, have never even seen a dead body. If we have never spent time reflecting and coming to terms with the inevitability of our own death, how can we feel at ease enough to share the journey with someone who is terminally ill, or know the best way to commiserate with someone who has just lost a loved one? It is all too emotionally charged and unfamiliar. And overwhelming."
With Living Well, Dying Well, Hermione and her colleagues help people think about it, talk about it, plan for it in a safe and supported way. They work to encourage an approach to dying that is humane, respectful, and honouring of an individual's identity and sense of self. They accomplish this through holding events where death and dying can be discussed (promoting death literacy); through providing training and workshops about death and dying for both professionals and members of the public; and through enhancing the ability of communities to care well for their dying, and to be more prepared for it. Our overriding objective is to work in partnership to ensure that a quality of integrity, for the person who is dying and those closest to them, remains consistently in place.
We do our work through hosting conversations and seminars for the public, through training for health professionals and by offering practical, emotional and spiritual support to people approaching death and the families who are caring for them. Myrna Jelman, director-producer with Spring Film Prodiuctions, and a colleagueof Elliott's, worked with her to produce an excellent 45 minute documentary on the subject. "Happy Endings — Perspectives on Dying Well," available to buy on DVD, portrays death and dying in a pragmatic yet inspiring way. A very helpful guide and resource to patients, family members and professionals alike for preparing for death, starting healing conversations, illustrating professional training and reviewing the strategic direction of palliative care services and provision.
Hermione Elliott is a wellness coach, and works with the big life questions - when people find themselves out of their comfort zone or without a compass – perhaps facing stress, burnout, illness, bereavement, death, redundancy or midlife crisis. She provides a positive, creative support structure, inspiring clients to find possibilities where they thought there were none or to discover resources they didn’t know they have.
She has a background in health, coaching, counselling, personal development training and spiritual mentorship. She has lived and worked internationally and took the personal development programme, Life Choices, Life Changes through Imagework, to Japan whilst resident there. She facilitates Imagework training courses in UK working with individuals and groups and is awed by the scope and power of our inner images and their potential to give us insight and inspiration. Her book, Gan No Serufu Hiringu, a self-help guide for people with cancer, was published in Japan in 1993 and 1997. She is the founder and Director of Burnout Solutions, and the not-for-profit network, Living Well, Dying Well.
Myrna Jelman is a relative newcomer to film making. Her career in leadership and organisational development at one of the UK’s top business schools supports her passion for film making. Myrna's training as a humanistic psychologist informs her style and approach, helping her as a producer and director to create trust with contributors and actors alike and to recognise and highlight subtext and story in both fiction and non-fiction films as an editor. Her experience as a workshop leader means that she is a confident presenter and clear communicator. Myrna is fluent in both French and English.