Rebecca Lyons – Independent Funeral Director – Educator – Death advocate

Tell me a bit about how you fit into the End-of-Life care space.

I am not entirely sure where I fit. I have my finger in a few pies and as such I fill a fair few roles. I am one of the leaders in the space I guess, certainly a go-to for some people for knowledge and learning and for people coming to the space. I have done a lot of work and research in the space and I split my time three ways now. I work in our local community with our business, I do a lot of education and advocacy and I do big picture work – government, policies nationally with peak body and raising the profile of the space.

How long have you been in this line of work?

For over 12 years

Tell me about your business, You n’ Taboo and how it has evolved.

Our business evolved organically, for the longest time we never had a plan we just started with nothing and responded to needs. We worked other jobs and built what we could when we could. Working within the community it has been grassroots on many levels and we have had to pivot and juggle more than once.

What drew you to work in this area? Was there a significant moment in time?

There wasn’t a moment in time, it just felt right. I was qualified in other worlds when I went back to full-time work and I only applied for two roles that I had no experience in – I got both jobs but chose the funeral industry because it felt right, death has always been a part of my life so this was a natural progression.

Tell me a bit about growing up. Were there any influences that might have carried on into your adult years?

I think that’s inevitable. We are always products of our environments, circumstances, the cards we are dealt and how we cope with them and respond to them. The older I get the more I appreciate the complexity of life, I realise that all my experiences – good and bad – have made me who I am and given me the experience to be able to step into the hard places and help other people.

What experiences have you had that have touched you deeply working in End-of-Life care?

So many. There are moments that will stay with me forever. Hugs from families, dressing the broken body of a little child, outdoor ceremonies, entire communities that stepped into caring for their friends in death. But maybe the experiences that sit deepest within me are the deaths of my own people, bringing all the experiences and knowledge I have gained into those moments with my nearest and dearest and still experiencing the helplessness and the grief from untimely and unexpected deaths.

Any aha moments?

Maybe the biggest aha moment was working in the funeral industry and realising that we were not helping people the way we should. Along with that came the knowledge that funeral directors are not always right and there may just be a better way.

Personally, I learned early on that life is complicated and that good people can do bad things.

What has been the best change/progress that you have seen of late in the industry?

The introduction of home funerals, doulas and natural burial. All of these things are still early on in Australia but it has been really good to see the way they are growing and making a difference around the world.

What part of the industry to you think needs the most work?

I think it’s twofold, we need to do more work to de-medicalise dying, supporting family and community in home-based care. The funeral industry needs a good deal of money taken out of it – empowering families and communities in alternatives to the funeral industry.

Who are your biggest influences/people you look up to.

My son Joey….

My friends…

Dr. Pia Interlandi, Dr. Kerrie Noonan, Zenith Virago, Mea Souris, Christine Howard, Dee Stokes, Tracey Rusden

And many more…..

So many people professionally, leaders in the space, all of them doing fabulous work.

Who are some other great businesses/people working in the End-Of-Life space that I should check out?

Which book would you go tell me to read?

 ‘Being with Dying’ by Joan Hallifax, ‘Changing Landscapes’ by Lee Webster and a few dozen others.

Which website would you tell me to head to?

The Australian Home Funeral Alliance, obviously! Or mine – You n’ Taboo

Your spirit animal?

Some kind of cat I think. Hardy, surviving, loner but seeks out company from time to time…

Words of wisdom.

Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.


A Blessing for the Dying

May death come gently toward you, leaving you time to make your way

Through the cold embrace of fear, to the place of inner tranquillity.

May death arrive only after a long life,

to find you at home among your own

With every comfort and care you require.

may your leave-taking be gracious,

Enabling you to hold dignity, through awkwardness and illness.

May you see the reflection, of your life’s kindness and beauty

In all the tears that fall for you. as your eyes focus on each face,

May your soul take its imprint, drawing each image within

As companions for the journey. may your spirit feel

The surge of true delight, when the veil of the visible

Is raised, and you glimpse again, the living faces

Of departed family and friends. may there be some beautiful surprise

Waiting for you inside death, something you never knew or felt,

Which with one simple touch, absolves you of all loneliness and loss,

As you quicken within the embrace,

for which your soul was eternally made.“

– John O’Donohue

Death is the greatest teacher of all.

Greater than all human philosophies. Truer than any religion.

Death strips away the lies, the pretence.

Death makes a mockery of our resentment.

It burns our greed, grudges and grievances.

Death invites us to be utterly present.

To let go. To forgive. To meet, without history.

Death makes it plain that only love matters.

That only love makes life worth living.

And all else is dust. Death is a ruthless portal.

Worldly riches are powerless against it.

Hatred cannot survive it. Only love can pass through.

We return to our True Nature. The cycle is complete.

– Jeff Foster

Want to know more about Bec and the amazing work she does?

You can purchase her amazing book A Heartfelt Undertaking HERE

You can watch her TEDx talk HERE