TEDxSydney - Kerrie Noonan - My Friend Jude

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 12.06.2011

[Intro Music]
Hello! I'm here to talk about my friend Jude. My friend Jude inspired me. She was a daughter,
a sister, a friend, a crazy haired artist, a people magnet. She lived big and she lived well.
But it was the way she died that inspired me.
I saw Jude for the last time, only hours before she died, three months ago. She insisted
I come that Sunday, "before I pop my clocks", she said and we spent the afternoon together
and her now slightly slower version of chain smoking and we reminisced about her life
as an artist and her life living with cancer.
In many ways, it was an ordinary afternoon. So I had no idea that Jude had told her family
that this very day was the day she was going to die. But this is not a morbid story.
Jude grabbed hold of the experience of dying in the same way she grabbed hold of her living.
And one of the ways that she did that was by going to her beloved Bondi Beach every
morning for a walk, and she did that till days before she died. And as it turned out
she didn't die that Sunday, she died the next day. Monday morning, at home, where she planned,
surrounded by her dearest friends and her brother Paul.
I think mostly we have become out of practice with everyday dying. Out of practice with
the doing and the talking of death.
And while the way Jude died isn't what everyone will or should do. It is an example of how
to live well and how to die in a way that reflects this.
Until her last breath, Jude actively surrounded herself with the everyday business of family,
friends, food, art and love and even here at her funeral ceremony in a Surry Hills Art
Gallery we painted and filled her coffin while the latest exhibition hung around us.
Why does this inspire me? Well, Jude didn't subscribe to the, "we are a death denying society"
line and neither do I. We are surrounded by images and messages about death. Mostly they
are portrayed as fearful, unnatural and violent. Jude reminds us that death doesn't always
need to be like this and I hope that Jude might inspire you.
Talk, prepare, plan for the inevitable because the fact is, most of us will not be surprised by death.
We will die everyday deaths through illness and old age and we have time to prepare for our dying.
So I encourage you. Have a conversation with the people in your life who are dying, learn
from them. Talk to your family about your wishes, talk about organ donation, talk about
whether or not you want to be cremated or buried in the earth or even in the sea.
Ask about palliative care and what it can offer you or a loved one. Ask yourself, "how do I
want to be remembered?". Because dying is the last thing you are going to do in your life.
Talk about death, talk about dying. It won't kill you.
[Laughter and applause]
Thank you.