A "brush with mortality" two years ago put Ruth Boydell on a new path, one that assists people in the process of dying.
In 2017 Ms Boydell was struck down by a condition called transient global amnesia. The stress-related episode with stroke-like symptoms trapped Ms Boydell in a state of suspended semi-awareness.
When she recovered, Ms Boydell left her 25-year TAFE position teaching maritime navigation to train as an end of life doula, an emerging profession that aims to bring compassion and comfort to people who are terminally ill.
"As a death doula... I give sensible heart-centred options with common sense solutions. I provide a gentle assistance to ensure this final journey resolves with dignity, grace and honour," Ms Boydell said.
As part of her work, the the death doula also supports efforts to increase community awareness around end of life options.
Through a six-month Newcastle Compassionate Community program called Rest Assured, being run in conjunction with Sandgate Cemetery, Ms Boydell is opening up discussions about death with the community.
Ms Boydell co-presented the first Rest Assured seminar, titled Dying to Talk - Starting the conversation, in March with Newcastle Compassionate Community chair Jeanette Lacey.
The free monthly presentations, held at Sandgate Cemetery, cover topics such as grief and loss, advance care planning, palliative care, organising your own funeral, memoir writing, doula work and services and general end of life matters.
The next presentation will be held on July 17 with Ms Boydell at the helm talking about organising your own funeral and doula work.
Some of the issues Ms Boydell will cover in her presentation, running 5pm to 7pm, include after death options (organ donation, memorial, burial options), grief, end of life advocacy, doula work, end of life planning (wills, guardianship, memoir, obit) and living to the end.
Sandgate Cemetery manager Mark Franklin said the Rest Assured series is part of its care and wellbeing program.
"These small gatherings will provide a wonderful opportunity for informed discussion in a supportive and safe environment," he said. "We want people to know that as well as being an integral part of Newcastle and the region's historical landscape, we also seek to contribute and connect."
Registrations are limited and essential by phoning (02) 4968 3602 or email email@example.com.