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The Death Dialogues Project Podcast
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The Death Dialogues Project Podcast

Author: The Death Dialogues Project

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“I love how real these episodes are. . .” Conversations from the little red shed about death, dying & the aftermath. Help us bring the topic of DEATH out of the closet. You can find out more about our project at, & .
39 Episodes
Meet this episode’s guest— Josh Neufeld. I’m Josh, founder of Grief Narratives. I’m a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. In 2015, death took my dad rather quickly. When they found the cancer, it had already taken up residence in his pancreas and spread to his liver. What I discovered during the process was that though I felt alone and unique in my grief, the reality is, so many share a story so similar to mine. At the time I was beginning work on a photo project around terminal illness and mortality. Suddenly, my father became the subject. Capturing moments and writing about the process allowed me to connect with so many others experiencing something similar. It created the desire to build a space for people to be able to do the same. The link to the piece about Josh’s dad: His website: IG @griefnarratives & @joshneufeldphoto
An introduction from our guest Lauren Morse: I’m located in Yellow Springs, Ohio and offer intersectional end of life support, death positive educational workshops, and death/grief as sacred activism through ritual and circle crafting. Although rooted in traditional Appalachian folk practices I’ve integrated trauma informed yoga therapy, counseling, and other professional and personal experiences to return advocacy and community deathcare to my neck of the woods. Find Lauren on Instagram at @exhale.midwife
Chris Frazier is a 34 year old stay at home mom of two beautiful girls. This last year has been a trying one for their family as they dealt with the prenatal diagnosis and eventual death of their second daughter Emily. Their story is one of sadness but also hope and miracles. Chris holds a masters degree in student affairs in higher education from Colorado state university and a bachelors degree in communication from Oregon tech. In her spare time Chris loves to read, exercise, spend time outdoors.
At our podcast’s one year anniversary, it is very appropriate we would be blessed to have an interview with a person who has been one of our primary influences on The Death Dialogues Project’s mission. It was Zen’s work that empowered Becky to take a natural approach with her family— something she would have dreamed of doing, but without exposure to Zenith’s work would not have felt as confident on the journey. Zenith lives in Byron Bay, and is the EO and founding member of the NSW Charity, the Natural Death Care Centre. She is the co author of the book The Intimacy of Death and Dying, and subject of the international independent documentary, Zen & the Art of Dying. The inspirational dream of the NDCC is that every individual, community and service provider has the knowledge and capacity to do death well. Zenith has been at the forefront and a leading pioneer of dying well, family led body care, meaningful and appropriate ceremony, and informing and educating communities to reclaim and be empowered before, during and after death. Offering a hybrid of truly traditional ways blended with a more contemporary understanding, encouraging people to take their dying, death, after death care and ceremony back into their own hands and hearts, even in cases of sudden death and trauma. With a legal and community background and work history, she is a seen as a community resource, assisting people to know and reclaim their legal rights, and co-create their own social rites of passage. She has been working towards more holistic cultural change in approaches to better and continual end of life and after death care for well over 25 years. She is known as a Deathwalker, an educator and a celebrant, sharing the subtle and obvious layers involved, offering guidance, support and care to inform, enable and empower people to be as informed, open and courageous as they can, and to experience their dying and their loss in the best way they can. Simply, she accompanies and guides people in their loss. She now works, speaks and teaches both nationally and Internationally, and her work may best be summed up as assisting people to die well, and for those left behind to have a healthier bereavement, as they move into their healing with no or few regrets. Zenith Virago : Deathwalker. Celebrant. Author. Trainer. JP. (+61) 0427 924 310Transformative Rites of Passage. Weddings & Funerals Conscious & Integrated End of Life & After Death Care Consultations zenithvirago.comDeathwalker Trainings naturaldeathcarecentre.orgCo-Author of The Intimacy of Death & Dying Documentary Films
34. Death & Divinity

34. Death & Divinity


Splintered by her own loss, today’s guest shares how her experience has expanded and shaken her. On this episode you will hear from Rev Melissa Harris -Interfaith Minister, Writer, Speaker, Student, InquisitorMelissa received her undergrad degree in Psychology from Iowa State University and an M.S. in Counseling from Wayne State College in Nebraska. Her professional career has included social services, conservatorship law, and insurance. Ordained as an Interfaith Minister in 2017 following study in Comparative Religions and Mysticism, she is currently pursuing a Master’s of Divinity through All Faiths Seminary International and serves on the Spiritual Council of Unity Center of Des Moines.A lifelong seeker of wisdom and meaning, Melissa believes that the breath and body are expressions of God, and that the way to live fully is to intentionally and equally embrace our humanity and our divinity. Melissa is married to Tim Harris. They live in Urbandale, Iowa, are avid sports fans, and enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, and any time spent connecting in nature.
Season 2– here we come

Season 2– here we come


On this short episode you will here a wee bit about the history of the project and lessons learned from what life hurls at us as we rev up our second season of the The Death Dialogues Podcast. Contact if you have a story to share.
33. Lifestyle : Deathstyle

33. Lifestyle : Deathstyle


In this episode, Becky, creator of The Death Dialogues Project discusses the use of the word “lifestyle” in New Zealand & how we could all stand to ponder that word a bit more for our lives — and deaths. And don’t forget about our workshop coming right up: ‪A Good Death: a DIY Workshop Exploring ...‬
Angela Mencl unexpectedly found herself a widow and single mother of four at age of 30. Angela not only lost her spouse but her sister passed away the day before. Determined to create the most beautiful plan B she moved to Utah to be close to family and raise her children with that support. Her grief was too much to bear alone so she turned outward and created a Instagram platform to work through grief and help others. Angela’s raw posts expose the untold stories of grief and create a safe place for others to feel accepted and seen. Angela is the true embodiment of a lovely lion heart. You can find her Instagram account at
Tricia Barker experienced a profound near-death experience during her senior year of college, and this experience guided her to teach overseas, in public schools, and at the college level. Her near-death experience story has been featured in media outlets including The Biography Channel’s I Survived: Beyond and Back, National Geographic Magazine, Women’s World Magazine, Simple Grace Magazine, and The Doctor Oz Show. Tricia’s memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, tells the story of her near-death experience, teaching mission, and eventual triumph over trauma in her past. The book also focuses on the importance being of service and giving unconditional love to others. Tricia is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. She also received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Currently she teaches English at a beautiful community college in Fort Worth, Texas. She interviews other near-death experiencers, researchers, healers, and mediums on her YouTube Channel. She has partnered with Dr. Raymond Moody and Lisa Smartt to produce The Second Annual Online Near-Death Experience Summit. Tricia speaks to audiences nationally and internationally about unconditional love, healing, and consciousness. Book: Website:
In this episode we hear what inspired Kate Manser to create the project You Might Die Tomorrow. Kate is just so happy to be alive. After experiencing four separate sudden deaths of friends in two years, she experienced a radical shift in perspective: Thinking about your death reminds you to live. She is now the creator of YOU MIGHT DIE TOMORROW a recognized brand with the mission to help people really live before you die. Today, YOU MIGHT DIE TOMORROW has a global following with thousands of stickers around the world, happy clients like Facebook, Inc. and the book is coming out before Christmas 2019. Get a free sticker at
Hear from a mother who , after the death of her precious toddler, Charlie, channeled her energy into giving to other families experiencing a similar loss. Extraordinary. Kjerstin Davies is a southern California native, raising her family in Colorado. She has always had a heart for children. Formerly, Kjerstin was an event planner and later, a child educator. Before she had any of her own she was a court appointed special advocate for foster kids for many years. She is the co-founder of Charlie's Guys, a nonprofit she runs for bereaved siblings.It all started with Charlie and his brother. Charlie was born 21 months after his brother, creating a close brotherly bond that they both cherished. Things they enjoyed most were playing with their transformers, pretending to be transformers, digging for dinosaur bones, playing hide-and-seek, and swimming together. One morning when Charlie was all but 23 months old, he passed away in his sleep. While the founders didn't know it at the time, Charlie had contracted a virus that compromised his body and left him with no symptoms until it became fatal. Terrified to begin this journey, they were showered with love and compassion in the form of gifts, clothes, books, and experiences. Even their unborn daughter (due two months after Charlie passed) was showered with gifts. This generosity made their pain more manageable and they were able to see love in the midst of their loss. This organization is born out of all the generosity they received. Now they want to give back to those who are also changed by this type of tragedy. You can find more at, on Instagram and FB.
Rebecca Soffer is the cofounder and CEO of Modern Loss, a website and community the New York Times has hailed as “redefining mourning.” She is a former producer for the Peabody Award-winning Colbert Report, having accompanied Stephen Colbert on his quest to meet all 435 U.S. House Representatives. Rebecca coauthored the book Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome, and is one of Spirituality & Health magazine’s 10 spiritual leaders for the next 20 years. A Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism alumna, Rebecca has spoken nationally on the themes of loss and resilience at Chicago Ideas Week, HBO, and Amazon, and has been featured in outlets including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Newsweek. Her writing has appeared in a variety of media such as New York Times, Refinery29, Elle, Marie Claire,, and various book collections. She lives in New York City with her husband and two little boys.Go to to explore more. You can find Modern Loss on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter
In the past two years, John Pavlovitz’s blog, Stuff That Needs To Be Said, has reached a diverse audience of millions of people across the world with his outspoken distaste for a number of President Trump’s policies and confrontation of the larger national vitriol about immigrants, guns, and many other hot button issues. His popularity is not surprising, given that his core message is one that so many of us are yearning to hear: that hope is still possible, and that kindness, inclusion, and compassion are the way forward. A former megachurch pastor, Pavlovitz now preaches a much less-traditional Christian message dedicated to radical hospitality, mutual respect, and diversity of doctrine that has earned him the nicknames “The Pastor of the Resistance” and “The Atheists’ Favorite Pastor.” He wants to help those of us who feel hopeless recognize ways in which we can change things for the better. “Hope isn’t found in a celebrity, religious leader, or politician,” says Pavlovitz. “It’s found in the mirror.” Pavlovitz fervently believes that people can change things with a little guidance. “We all have a small world that we can save,” Pavlovitz explains “Compassion, or giving a damn, is one of the most powerful weapons we have in difficult times.” In a rousing and inspiring interview, Pavlovitz, author of the new book, Hope and Other SuperPowers:A Life-Affirming, Love-Defending, Butt-Kicking, World-Saving Manifesto (Simon and Schuster, November 2018), can discuss: • How to find hope in the face of the discord and anger we see on social media news feeds every day• Recognizing that personal pain can mobilize us to activism• Specific places to start and steps to take in the face of the vast and overwhelming problems in the world• How to balance fighting injustice in the world with caring for oneself• One thing each one of us can do right now to be the kind of person the world needs• And much more! John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist. In the past five years his blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said has reached a diverse worldwide audience of millions of people, and he is widely regarded as a leading voice in progressive faith in America. A 22-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. In 2017 he released his first book, A Bigger Table. His second book, Hope and Other Superpowers, arrived in November of 2018. For more information visit Or you can find John on Twitter @johnpavlovitz, Facebook @johnpavlovitzofficial, and instagram @johnpavlovitz. Hope and Other Superpowers is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and wherever books are sold
Kenn Pitawanakwat, B.A., M.A., is a professor of an endangered language. A Graduate of York University and Northern Michigan University, Kenn steps forward as people’s confidant and Algonquian language etymologist. Kenn has been featured in film, social media, and academe. Kenn currently lives, with his wife, Lorraine, in northern Ontario, Canada, where his personal search for meaning in tragedy led to the writing of this book.Credit: Al JoynerFIRST NATIONS FATHER RECOUNTS HIS BATTLE WITH GRIEF THROUGH LANGUAGE AND CEREMONY​Contact: Kenn PitawanakwatEmail:​​WIKWEMIKONG, ONTARIO, May 12, 2016 – Local band member, grieving father, and survivorof Residential Day School, Kenn Pitawanakwat, of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve hasannounced the publication of his personal journal of bereavement and grief following his son’saccidental death, When My Son Died ($19.95 US/Amazon and as an Ebook $3.00). This 159-page book sheds light ondeath from a First Nations perspective and aims to help others with similar experiences.​Pitawanakwat suffered the unexpected loss of his son Shannon to a snowmobile accident twoyears ago. Shannon’s death triggered regrets and a landslide of traumatic family memoriessuppressed since childhood. Unable to find any self-help resources on grief that rendered FirstNations realism, Kenn wandered alone trying to reconcile with this tragedy. This book is theproduct of that journey.​"Raw, honest, and unafraid, When My Son Died is the story of a man’s deepest loss,written in the tongue of his own cultural grief. It is a visceral look into a man’s painand his fight to thrive." (E.D.E. Bell, author of the Shkode Trilogy)​Frozen by an overwhelming sense of helplessness and confusion, Pitawanakwat, turned toceremony and writing. Desperately praying for protection of Shannon’s spirit, Kenn renewedhimself in the language of his ancestors and was gifted with visits from the spirit world thatbrought him comfort and reassurance: Shannon’s spirit consoled him, nurtured his hunger forinsight on the circle of life, and enabled him to experience lighthearted moments once again.​When My Son Died is available from or can be ordered​About the Author:Kenn Pitawanakwat, Masters in Individualized Studies, is the author of several essays, poemsand short stories depicting First Nations characters and issues of interest. He started his careerin film production and acting prior to holding various First Nations community developmentpositions that eventually led him to pursue his unquenchable interest in his mother tongue.Recognized as an authority in the endangered Odawa language, Kenn helped establish aNishinaabe Studies Program at Northern Michigan University where he taught for eight years.Pitawanakwat uses his Indigenous knowledge and gifts to help families, couples, and individualsof all ages in First Nations communities and urban centres across Canada and the US toovercome abuse, violence and trauma. Kenn was a grief counsellor to Residential SchoolSurvivors at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hearings and continues to usehis personal and professional knowledge and skills to promote healing. He lives onWikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Lorraine, and family.For more information, or to schedule an interview with or appearance by Mr. KennPitawanakwat, email kennpitawanakwat1@gmail.comor visit Review copies are available to the media on request.
25. Down to Earth Dying

25. Down to Earth Dying


Down to Earth Dying: Caroline Schrank became a Funeral Director after planning funerals for her parents 8 years apart.  Her goal is to educate and inform that death and funerals aren’t “one size fits all”, and that there are options - you just have to ask.  Caroline runs Down To Earth Funerals in New York City.
Anne O’Boyle Vlahos resides in Vermont with her husband and near their two children. She is still inspired today by her mother’s love of gardening and cooking and her father’s curiosity and love of nature. Her dog Moose is usually by her side when she’s home.Death was never an event Anne’s parents sheltered her from as she grew up. They took her to a wake for the first time at the age of two. Though only one of two children, Anne is from a large family with an abundance of opportunities to see that many struggled with loss for many reasons. When Anne finally lost Baba, her maternal grandmother, it was the beginning of her journey to develop a personal understanding of death, spirituality, and life’s meaning. This event, when she was twenty and starting her junior year in college, started deep conversations with her friends, intensive reading, classes, and sessions with several spiritual teachers and intuitives.As Anne explored, she was also aware that her intuition and inner guidance grew, as well. The first time she connected with someone who had passed was in 1992 at the age of thirty, following the death of Evelyn Isadore. Though not with great frequency, she has, since then, been visited byclose relatives upon and after their passing.She learned that anything from action to acceptance to stillness can allow you to see the gifts that only a loved one’s departure can bring. She welcomes you to explore what gifts you too may find in that loss.Anne was born in Pennsylvania and raised in New Jersey by her parents, along with her sister. She attended the University of Delaware and Hunter College, receiving a BS and MS in Nutrition, which led to a thirty-year career in sales, marketing, and business development in the food industry. You can connect with me here:www.ToDieForbook.comFB: To Die For book To.Die.Forbook
23. The Accidental Episode

23. The Accidental Episode


Dan Ruderman (IG loveand_death_ because) agreed to be a guest on an episode of our podcast. But as we began to chat— he felt it was maybe too early. As you will hear, his wife’s death was on Thanksgiving Day November 22, 2018: very recent. We decided to go on and just chat and it happened to be recorded— this was the technology we were using. At the end, Dan decided he was okay if our conversation was used as a podcast. Thank you Dan for the generosity of sharing your heart and your unique and love-filled experience of walking your dear Ditte home and holding such a meaningful vigil for her. Apologies for the inconsistent audio since we were not considering this an episode recording.
Heike Mertins is an author, blogger and speaker about grief, grieving and recovery. She is the author of “Grief is...Thoughts on loss, struggle and new beginnings” (2017) which chronicles her journey through the bizarre, frustrating and at times humourous world of incomprehensible loss. Following the death of her brother and husband, Heike began to document the process of loss, emotion and healing that accompanies a momentous life change. The Kirkus Review noted her work as compelling due to her adamant refusal to file the rough edges of her emotions in order to make readers more comfortable. In closing the reviewer wrote that the book will surely provide some comfort to those facing a similar loss.Heike likes to think of her writings as pulling back the curtain of one of the few experiences we still prefer to not think about. A taboo that leaves those who grieve isolated and those wishing to support them at a loss as to how to do so. A taboo it is her personal mission to help dismantle. Hers is a message of hope for those who grieve. Today, she is committed to improving how we perceive and manage grief. Doing so has become her heart work. Website link: https://heikemertins.comBlog: An eclectic life When you order the book, if it says sold out— continue with the process and the book will arrive within 7-10 days.
Coming upon Kellyn’s “surviving siblings” Instagram account and our ensuing conversation felt like a breath of fresh air. You’ll have to listen to hear the analogy Kellyn made that struck my heart and soul with a deep sense of knowing — and relief— that someone else “got” it. Kellyn, drawing on her experience of surviving her dad and sister, founded Here For You, a company that changes the way people support each other during difficult life transitions. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and daughter. You can find her company at and at her Instagram page of the same name. Also on IG find survivingsiblings , surviving parents & survivingchildren.
Olympian, Rowing Champ, Master Griever. Many New Zealanders are familiar with Rob Hamill and his story. Or stories. Well known as a highly esteemed elite athlete— excelling in rowing was precipitated by hugely traumatic grief. When Rob was 14 his older brother went missing on a sailing adventure. It was later discovered that Kerry had been captured by the Khmer Rouge & tortured for months before his murder. Hear Rob’s heartfelt journey that led him to go back to the space his brother spent his last days and make an award winning documentary: Brother Number One. You’ll also hear the unfolding of grief over other losses as his family’s lives are forever changed. Experiencing tragic deaths has given Rob a refreshing perspective on living life in the moment as he & his wife & children go off grid & live on a sailboat. You can find links to those adventures, Rob’s work as a motivational speaker & his movie all at Follow their adventures on their FB page and youtube channel called The Cruising Kiwis.
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