Above: Caroline Barron's Golden Labrador Norah on Ripiro Beach [image supplied by the author]
SEPTEMBER 9, 2023
Life After Near Death
Death in Print: Ripiro Beach: A memoir of life after near death, Meet: Author and literary citizen Caroline Barron, Death on Screen: Taboo Education YouTube channel
Listen to Episode 6 on the following podcast platforms
Or, if you've already listened to the show, scroll down for more info and links . . .
DEATH IN PRINT
Ripiro Beach: A memoir of life after near death by Caroline Barron
On the inside flap of Ripiro Beach: A memoir of life after near death, the following questions are posed: Does DNA write our destinies? Or do the hands that nurture triumph over nature? What is it that determines who we really are?
In this book, Caroline sets out to answer these questions after she experiences a near death experience shortly after giving birth to her second daughter. This serves as the inciting incident in the book.
However, the story really begins earlier when Caroline’s father died suddenly on her 20th birthday, and she developed an insidious fear of her own untimely death. When she nearly bleeds out on an operating table during childbirth, it almost seems her greatest fear is justified.
Emerging from the experience a changed woman, Caroline spends the next six years poring over her family history in an attempt to make sense of her inexplicable rage. The family secrets she unearths threaten to destabilise her identity and carefully built life, eventually leading her to Northland’s rugged Ripiro Beach, where past and present dramatically collide.
There are so many layers in this story – as Caroline embarks with desperation on her journey to understand the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms she is experiencing she also makes progress with her family history research – which gives the story a propulsive sense of immediacy. In many ways, it feels like it’s unfolding in real time – it’s a real page turner.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RIPIRO BEACH: A MEMOIR OF LIFE AFTER NEAR DEATH
'Nearly dying eventually forced me to look at death, to hold it up to the light and inspect its many surfaces, to figure out where this paradox of living and dying sits within me.' - Caroline Barron
KŌRERO / CONVERSATION
Meet Caroline Barron
Above: Caroline Barron
In episode 6 of Deathwalker's Guide to Life Season 3, I speak with award-winning author and 'literary citizen' extraordinaire Caroline Barron (Te Uri O Hau / Pākehā), about the impact of two major close calls with death in her life: her father's sudden death when she was 20 years old and her own near death experience following the birth of her second child.
As well as being an award-winning author, Caroline is also story coach, presenter and manuscript assessor, as well as a journalist and former model agency owner.
Her memoir, Ripiro Beach: A memoir of life after near death (published by Bateman Books in 2020), won the New Zealand Heritage Literary Award for Best Non-fiction Book that same year.
Her debut novel, Golden Days, was published earlier this year by Australian publisher, Affirm Press.
We also discuss why it’s so important to talk about death with family members, including children.
'Eventually I google "psychological effects of near death" and become frustrated by the articles recounting bright lights and tunnels and a renewed sense of purpose having survived. This was definitely not my experience, and only adds to my sense of failure.' - Caroline Barron
DEATH ON SCREEN
Taboo Education is an informative Aussie YouTube channel, with a good dose of wry comedy, run by Sam, an Aussie psychotherapist, with the support of Gary, who she describes as the channel’s local ghost.
The pair’s mission is to remove the taboo of talking openly about death through education and humour, one life at a time. By doing so they hope to bring about healthy change in our medical, environmental and life attitudes.
The channel features more than 150 videos, which range in length from four to about 15 minutes. Sam traverses subjects as horrifying as the illegal body trade and modern-day corpse death to taking death sky high, with a look at vertical cemeteries around the world.
Of relevance to today's show - featuring my kōrero with Caroline Barron, is an episode titled Talking with Your Kids About Death: Tips for Parents, which you watch below.