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Introduction – Death Defined with Matt Kowka

Introduction – Death Defined with Matt Kowka.

My name is Matthew Kowka and I am in the business of death. Sounds morbid doesn’t it?  That sentiment around the morbid and taboo is exactly what I am hoping to dispel with my new venture – Death Defined with Matt Kowka. 

As the owner of Southern Cross Funeral Directors, I want to delve further into Australians ideologies around death and help people break down the stigma surrounding the end of life. In what is an industry first, I commissioned a survey of 1000 people to examine the views that we have on death, our comfort levels surrounding the subject and also the knowledge (or lack thereof) that Australians have when it comes to funerals and end of life preparations. Some of the key findings included:

  • 54% of those surveyed said their comfort levels on discussing death and dying were dependant on who it was with and the context of the conversation.
  • Almost 1/3 (29.9%) of those questioned indicated that they were strong avoiding thinking about their own mortality or had a preference not to have to think about it

I found the responses really thought provoking, albeit not necessarily surprising. Why is it that Australians find the topic of death so inhabiting to discuss, when as a country we have such a rich fabric of cultures – many of which freely discuss the afterlife with positivity and reverence? Many are just not encouraged to talk about the subject enough. 

I often find myself the object of fascination at a dinner party when people find out what I do. There is a curiosity in what I do and what stories I can share and I often put it down to the fact that people just don’t know enough about death so they feel that I am a safe space to ask those questions.

Death Defined is designed to take the taboo away from talking about death. I understand that the need for transparency goes beyond that of my commercial ventures in the funeral directing business, but my true passion is to provide transparency and be able to openly discuss death to hopefully dispel some fears and myths, we have surrounding death, dying and funerals. 

Things are changing, with funerals no longer always seen as the mourning of one’s death but rather, a celebration of life and I feel this is a great step in the right direction. I have one mantra in our business and that is that you can get married multiple times, but can only have one funeral. It is imperative to the family and friends who are left behind that we are there for them when their world has been turned upside down and make some of the hard decisions, and conversations, easier.

Death Defined with Matt Kowka is a truthful, open and compassionate platform to start those conversations which we might all be wanting to have and see some of our questions answered. I want to embrace our hesitancy in a nurturing way  and guide us through these discussions sooner rather than later, hoping to bring clarity, comfort and knowledge to those of us who have been too scared or reluctant to broach the subject of death in the past.