[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]Woodford-forum-from-back-300x168People do want to attend forums on funerals at festivals, and think creatively about death and dying. Kathy McCormick (Art of Dying), Victoria Spence (Life Rites, Sydney) and Priscilla Maxwell (Karuna Hospice Service, Brisbane) and I put on three forums at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland over the break. Woodford’s renowned for all it opens up – music, play, art and ritual, smiles and chats with strangers. We hoped that our practical, creative and non-spiritual presentations would sow a seed in this wonderful ground.

Over the week of the festival, we saw over two hundred people and had long conversations with thirty-six people who had questions or uncertainties or sought more information.

Woodford-satisfaction-2-e1421734380529-168x300After each event we invited participants to put a mark on a board indicating the degree to which the talks had met or exceeded their expectations.

Surprised that people want to explore funerals at festivals? Some of the comments made by participants show what people liked about being able to join with others to find out more:

It was helpful. I did a similar session at Seven Sisters after my grandma died. I like the idea of expanding to include all rites of life. It’s necessary at a festival like Woodford.  Beth

I found it good to hear about death and just to be prepared, to start thinking. It could be my parents, it could be a friend. Tim

I think it’s imperative to have meaningful venues to discuss living and dying well.  Brooke

Participants included people whose day jobs were in the community and health sector, nursing homes, arts organisations and funeral homes. One man manages a small community cemetery. However family and friends were most in people’s minds. They were interested in low impact and sustainable funerals. People reported that the sessions were informative, appropriate and respectful – this was heartening, given that it was a first for this topic at this festival. Inspired by so many positive responses, we’re planning a new and different program for Woodford 2015/2016.