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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.

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“I work in rehab but my main area of interest is palliative care.

I think my defining moment for death came at a very young age. I was 12 when my grandfather died on the 17th of January, 1969, my dad was killed on the 14th of June, 1969, and my great-grandmother died on the 14th of September 1969 - all very influential people within my life and within my family. And I think that was when I learnt about death and the acceptance of death. It happens. And it’s something I’ve never been afraid of.

I find it an honour. It’s an honour to work with families. It’s an honour to be able to support families through what can be some of the most horrific times of their lives. But also sometimes it can be the time where you see a real healing in families. We see families that might be estranged and all of a sudden one daughter that hasn’t seen mum for 20 or 30 years turns up and we can be there to witness that.

I just find it – yeah - it’s an honour. And to me it’s just the next part of our journey. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Look, people who are dying are fearful. Probably 85% of people are fearful, whether they have faith or not, because they don’t know how they’re going to die. And none of us know how (how it feels or how we’re going to die) and I always say there’s only one thing we can guarantee at work: that you won’t die alone if you don’t want to die alone, you won’t die in pain if we can avoid it, and other than that, we don’t know which way the journey is going to take you.

It’s something I don’t take for granted. It’s something to me that is private and personal. And so for them to allow me in at that time when they’re grieving or when they’ve lost somebody, it’s an honour to me to be part of that. It’s an honour to know you can make a difference in somebody’s life and in somebody’s grief.”

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