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Making death masks of notorious criminals was common in the 19th century, such as this cast of murderer William Burke at the University of Edinburgh’s Anatomy Museum. David Cheskin/PA

What we can learn from death rites of the past will help us treat the dead and grieving better today

Saints' relics, locks of hair, the laying of flowers: keeping the dead close took many forms in the past. We could learn from them today.
Knowing how to communicate about death gives us the language to discuss end-of-life topics with our loved ones. from www.shutterstock.com

Passed away, kicked the bucket, pushing up daisies – the many ways we don’t talk about death

We use euphemisms about death and dying to soften the blow of the real words, or because we feel awkward being direct. But this can lead to misunderstanding and confusion.
Palliative care aims to comfort rather than cure. from shutterstock.com

Palliative care should be embraced, not feared

Palliative care should be a time of shared care; when the doctor continues treating their patient's disease while symptom control and preparation for death track alongside.
We come into this world, grow and flourish and then decay and die. Jakob Nilsson-Ehle/Flickr

Everything dies and it’s best we learn to live with that

If presented with a client who has death anxiety, we ask them to tell us what exactly they fear about death. Once we have this information, there are several approaches to treating fear of death.
Our tendency to think that we will “beat the odds” is risky, and mostly wrong. malik ml williams

Before you go … are you in denial about death?

For most of us, death conjures up strong feelings. We project all kinds of fears onto it. We worry about it, dismiss it, laugh it off, push it aside or don’t think about it at all. Until we have to. Of…
Just 14% of Australians have an advance care plan. Simplificamos Su Trabajo/Flickr

Making a will? Why not plan your end-of-life care too

More than half of Australians have a will (59%) to determine how their property will be divided after they die. And 30% have appointed a power of attorney to make financial decisions if they lose the capacity…
We all have the legal right to refuse health care. Warren Goldswain

It’s your choice: how to plan for a better death

Have you thought about how you would want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions? You may be unconscious after car accident, you may be so ill you cannot communicate, or you may be dying and…
The majority of Australians want to die at home but just 14% are able to do so. Rustle/Shutterstock

A good death: Australians need support to die at home

The baby boomers are growing old and in the next 25 years the number of Australians who die each year will double. People want to die comfortably at home, supported by family and friends and effective…
We live in an era when chronically ill people are exposed to technological interventions that may not serve them well. Carlos Fonseca/Flickr

How do we decide the value of death (and life)?

Allowing people with incurable and unsupportable illness to die is ethically acceptable to most people, even though it’s unlikely there will ever be unanimity about when and how we allow such deaths. But…
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) prevents many deaths across the world, but it doesn’t bring dead people back to life. NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan

Waking the dead? Some things you should know about dying

Not content with saving lives, doctors are now credited with (accused of?) bringing the dead back to life. But how true are the stories we hear about people “coming back” from being dead and how does it…

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