EPISODE SHOW NOTES

Episode 13:
The Death Dialogues Project

As a young clinician tending to patients at the end of their lives Becky Aud-Jennison was frustrated by institutional death and the lack of sacredness around the dying process. Whereas many caregivers, like the culture at large, hadn’t yet seemed to have accepted Death as a part of living, she was driven to sit by people’s bedsides to help them have a more mindful experience and to spend time with them because that’s what they wanted.

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When she cared for and then lost her own beloved brother to brain cancer three years ago and then her mother ten months after that, she acted as death doula, caring for each, celebrating their lives, and holding vigil afterward. Helping her loved ones experience death on their terms and the grief she’s experienced losing two of her soul connections inspired Becky to create The Death Dialogues Project. She is passionate about helping to illuminate the ways our culture can choose to treat each person’s end-of-life journey as sacred as their birth.

Becky Aud-Jennison, MA, LCPC ’s life changed with a phone call from her dear brother, Max, on January 2, 2016; he wanted to confidentially process some frustrating memory loss. That was the last lucid conversation with her life-line sibling. Little did she know when her mother moved in with her in October 2015, she would be walking her home just ten months after the death of her brother who died in January 2017– having now been at the bedside of each of her nuclear family as they died, since her father’s death in 1983.

Death has certainly informed Becky throughout her lengthy career in human services, starting as a nurses aide, then nurse, then clinical mental health professional and mind-body practitioner. Always a champion for doing institutionalized end of life more humanely— the recent deaths of her two family pillars brought her to her knees while also lighting a fire inside her.

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Becky now thinks of herself as a therapist gone rogue, DeathTalker you might say, creating The Death Dialogues Project with an aim of getting conversations surrounding dying, death, grief and the aftermath out of the closet. Since its inception in 2018 the project has staged two critically acclaimed productions based on verbatim stories, provided a workshop surrounding Death planning and is in the second year of a well-received podcast. Becky has begun a writing project based on what Death and Life has taught her, through her own experiences and the stories of others.

ABOUT YOUR HOST

I’m a writer, a teacher, a native New Yorker, and I love hearing about people’s lives. When I think back to my elementary school days at PS 20 in Flushing, Queens whenever we began social studies or a history lesson I wasn’t that interested in learning about battles, topography, or politics. What I wanted to know was how people lived: What their families were like, how they adapted to their circumstances, what they ate, how they celebrated, how they felt.
 
Sociology became my major at Binghamton University and in my life so far I’ve been an actress, a salesperson, a Zoo Keeper’s Aid, a volunteer animal trainer, an ELL teacher, a mother, and a wife. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, all of which led me to create this podcast which is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I couldn’t ask for a better job than having in-depth conversations with survivors, thought leaders, authors, social justice warriors, and people who believe that we are all connected and then getting to share their stories, insight, and vulnerability with listeners.
 
I’m so glad you’ve landed on this page. I hope you find stories here which resonate with you and that you’ll tune in every week. 
 
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