End-of-life professionals joined together in Launceston on Saturday for Tasmania’s first ‘Dying to Talk’ Expo.

FUNERAL PLANNING: And art installation at the ‘Dying to Talk’ Expo which was held at Launceston’s Albert Hall on Saturday. Picture: Neil Richardson

Palliative Care Tasmania general manager Colleen Johnstone said the eventaimed to provide information about death, dying and end of life care, and was an opportunity for the public to ask any trickyquestions.

“People have so much informationwhen you’re diagnosed with a life limiting illness, you immediately go through a period of grief and you’ve got all of this information and it’s a really scary process not just for you but for your family, your friends and the people around you,” she said.

“What we’re trying to do today is encouragepeople to have those scary conversations before it comes to being diagnosed.”

Ms Johnstone said she was pleased to see the diversity of stall holders, from palliative care services to disease associations to government services.

“What we wanted to do was get the message out to peoplethat palliative care is not just about the last few weeks of life and that there are a number of fantastic services in the community to support you when you are dying,” she said.

Finney Funeral Services managing director Mark Graham was an exhibitor at the expo, and said it was important to be able to provide outreach to the public.

“Death and dying is probably not a topic that we address as often as we should and it’s something that people can struggle to talk about,” he said.

Mr Graham said pre-planning is a nowbig part of thebusiness, with more than 20 per cent of clients taking an active role in their own funerals.

“What we’re seeing in our industry is that there’s a move from what was a more religious ceremony, to more of a civil service, we’re seeing that families really want to have a reflective and relaxed funeral,” he said.

Another stall at the eventpromoted Bittersweet, an organisation runningsupport groups for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.

“We started because my 18 year old son died in a car accident in 2008 and I couldn’t find anywhere locally where Icould find other peopleto talk to, and the only option in the end was to start something locally here,” said founder Lisa Bird.

“We still need to get the word out there, because after the funeral people can get lost in the abyss but this is somewhere they could be.”

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