Death's Lessons
April 24, 2022
Death's Lessons
Death in Print: Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons by Becky Aud-Jennison, Meet: Deathwalker and author Becky Aud-Jennison, Death on Screen: 'Good Grief'
Listen to Episode 1 on the following podcast platforms
Or, if you've already listened to the show, scroll down for more info and links . . .
Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons by Becky Aud-Jennison
Photo by Jacob
Photo by Leio
Photo by Shifaaz
In Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: field notes from the Death Dialogues Project, Becky Aud-Jennison has adapted her fabulous podcast into a rich, engaging and life/death-affirming book.

Becky has always been a great communicator about the subject of death, after being immersed in it from a young age and growing into a health professional (having first trained as a nurse and then counsellor), but she still recognises - and wrangles with - the reality that we still (mostly) live in a death-averse culture and that death avoidance is born of fear. She encourages readers to expose themselves to their fears in order to learn they are still able to breathe and function in its presence.

Just as The Death Dialogues Project podcast is built on the sacred ground of story, so too are these field notes. Interspersing her own story with those of her podcast guests, Becky covers the vast terrain of illness, dying, death and near-death, bereavement and after-death communication.

In particular, I appreciated Becky's chapter on 'anticipatory grief', which helped me reframe my own thinking about what I'd simply labelled 'death anxiety'. In this chapter, she reveals how, even with her own life experience, nothing could have prepared her for the death of her beloved brother, shortly following by the death of her mother; it 'took me apart, dismantled me, and that now I'm put together differently' she writes. She experiences 'the beautiful-horrible-messiness' swirling inside her. Becky knows that trauma, death and grief changes you on a cellular level.

I highly recommend buying a hard copy of this book and dipping into episodes of her podcast as you read it (Becky helpfully provides an incredibly useful index of episodes, arranged by topic, at the back of the book).
Part information, part pure grace, part remedy, and a sprinkle of magic, Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: field notes from The Death Dialogues Project sets a new and refreshing placemat at the table of all things death and grief.

Find out more about the book here.
Read reviews of the book on Goodreads.

Meet Becky Aud-Jennison
After a lengthy career as a mental health clinician, Becky Aud-Jennison now considers herself a therapist gone rogue, creating The Death Dialogues Project and podcast to open an alternative space to support people and assist our society in easing the topic of death out of the closet.

Our experiences are unique and Becky believes we learn more from listening to others' stories about their experiences than we do from generalised commentary on death, dying and the aftermath. Story is the foundation on which this book, the project, and the podcast are built.

Primarily reared in the middle of the United States, Becky now spends the bulk of her time on a hill in New Zealand overlooking rolling green pastures, the Whangarei Heads and harbour, along with five cheeky horses, two beloved dogs and a cat. The answer to her daughter's question, "Do you realise you are replacing children with animals?" may be yes. Becky and her husband have a blended family of nine children and three grandchildren.

Becky nominated 'Human' by The Killers as a song she would like played at her funeral or wake. Listen to the song in our 'Farewell songs' playlist.
'don't call him home yet'
A poem by Becky Aud-Jennison
'Good Grief'
Good Grief, a new Kiwi comedy series, opens with two very different sisters, Ellie and Gwen, who inherit a funeral home - and its eccentric employees - from their koro (grandfather). While Ellie is determined to uphold her grandfather's legacy, Gwen can't wait to get to Bali and become a DJ. So the premise of the show is, can they figure out their lives while staring death in the face?

Shot at a South Auckland community centre over 15 days in the winter of 2020, season 1 of Good Grief's consists of six 15-minute episodes that are extremely funny. In an article on The Spinoff in October last year, writer Chris Schulz suggested it could be the next Flight of the Concords.

This is because it's been picked up by IFC and Sundance Now, which is part of the huge American network AMC, the home of Emmy-winning shows Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

Ellie and Gwen are not only sisters in the show but sisters in real life - 25 year old Grace Palmer plays Gwen and 31 year old Eve Palmer plays Ellie - and as well as being the stars of the show, they are also its creators and co-wrote it with Christchurch screenwriter Nick Schaedel.

There are some scenes that are difficult to watch - the opening scene for one, which may scare off some viewers - but there are many more that are laugh out loud funny.

Here in Aotearoa, you can watch the show on TVNZ On Demand for free, which is awesome, although you do have to put up with some advertisements - a bit annoying in a show that's only 15 minutes long.

If you’re listening in Australia, you can watch Good Grief on SBS On Demand (see trailer below).
Catch up on Season 1 episodes
  • OUT OCTOBER 3, 2021
    Death in Print: Before You Knew My Name, Meet: author Jacqueline Bublitz, Death on Screen: 'Dead to Me'
  • OUT OCTOBER 17, 2021
    Death in Print: Listen: How to Find the Words for Tender Conversations, Meet: author Kathryn Mannix, Death on Screen: 'Phone of the Wind'
  • OUT OCTOBER 31, 2021
    Death in Print: No Pressure, No Diamonds, Meet: legal executive Marie Austin, Death on Screen: 'I Told You I Was Ill: the Life & Legacy of Spike Milligan'
  • OUT OCTOBER 31, 2021
    Death in Print: No Pressure, No Diamonds by Teri Dillion, Meet: legal executive Marie Austin, Death on Screen: 'I Told You I Was Ill: The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan'
  • OUT NOVEMBER 14, 2021
    Death in Print: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, Meet: poet & playwright Donna McLeod, Death on Screen: 'Living with Ghosts'
  • OUT NOVEMBER 28, 2021
    Death in Print: Mortals: How the Fear of Death Shaped Human Society by Rachel & Ross Menzies, Meet: psychologist and author Rachel Menzies, Death on Screen: Lisel Mueller on 'The Marginalian'
  • OUT DECEMBER 12, 2021
    Death in Print: No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood, Meet: author Bonnie Etherington, Death on Screen: 'My Beautiful Broken Brain'