The Death Letter Project
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April Creed | Senior Nurse Manager

At 18, to pay for my degree, I took on my first job as an assistant in nursing in aged care. 

My mother was proud but worried that it was too confronting a job for someone so young. So much death. 

Now 25 years later, supported with age, tertiary qualifications and experience, I celebrate and thank her for allowing me to work in an industry that led to a career, a vocation, that allows me to be close to people when they are most vulnerable .

Vulnerability. Death and dying is like a stripping back of pretence. I think many people find the thought of being vulnerable uncomfortable. It's raw and exposed.

When people are dying (and when I say dying, to me it encapsulates the period of preceding weeks, months prior and includes the imminent now of the death) in my experience as an observer ... they become more vulnerable. More honest. Needs become defined and the crazy expectations we take on as obligation fall away. This fits with the period in many deaths that involves a period of being unresponsive. I believe that during that period it's a time of process, a time of introspection and sorting the stuff we couldn't emotionally digest in our lives . Of checking off boxes, resolving. Sorted .... "I can move on" We need to be vulnerable to do that. It's beautiful, clean and uncluttered. I see dying well as akin to being born. It's a period of transition and again...in both these passages, we are vulnerable.

Being vulnerable opens us to receive the best in the universe, a blank page, it's a wonderful thing. A universal trust in yourself as part of a bigger entity. I look forward to a broader embrace of death, when it is acknowledged as a less fearful and dreadful thing.

I thought about writing about experiences I have had as a palliative care nurse, however to me it presented a major conflict of interest. The people I have cared for who have died deserve the enduring privacy of their experience. I acknowledge that, when I write about death as a concept rather than write as an observer. When I think about myself dying, obviously it's a thing I run from because "I'm not ready" and I guess that needs to be said because I don't want to patronize those who face what I assist with but have never had to personally face. I hope that when I do, that the vulnerability sits well, that the trust unfolds and that I have nurses, family or "assistants" (depending on the circumstance) that support and celebrate my passing as a positive thing.

 April Creed – Senior Nurse Manager


Editor's note: April Creed has been lobbying for improvement within the health system for years and made headlines in 2014 for listing her uterus on Ebay in an effort to raise money for a friend with terminal cancer who couldn’t afford the non-government funded chemotherapy drug she needed. The story went viral with April raising $20K in three weeks, and as a result of the worldwide attention on Roche and PBS, the government responded by listing the drug Kadkyla on PBS in early 2015, making it accessible to all regardless of income.

April is currently lobbying for person-centred decision making and advocacy in aged-care and has founded Project Align, which can be followed on Facebook.

The Death Letter Project welcomes your comments and feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page or alternatively submit a message below.

  • Beautiful ❤️ What great wisdom she has attained. Love that quote. - tysonlynda (Instagram)
     
  • The letter was complicated yet the simple explanation that death happens all the time its our attachment to life/death that is the complication. - Fern Smith (Email)
  • April Creed sounds such a lovely person. - Pam Cossey (Facebook)
     
  • Good letter from a caring person - Dorothea Ratcliffe (Facebook)
     
  • How wonderful - Sarah Malone (Facebook)
     
  • Well written April ... love your work ... 👍💗🙏 - Colleen Pettiford (Facebook)
     
  • Fantastic..beautifully written💗 - Elizabeth Blane (Facebook)
     
  • Great letter and gorgeous picture - Rosada Hayes (Facebook)
     
  • You divine so divine girl - I have tiers flowing down my face - if my arms could reach you right now I would hug you - Jo Anderson (Facebook)
     
  • April, you are an ordinary person doing EXTRAordinary things because of your EXTRAordinary heart and capacity to DO/ACT. Thanks for being you ..for DOing and Sharing same with the world - Denise Mmh (Facebook)