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Dead Honest: Interviews about working with the dying and the dead


Dead Honest: Interviews about working with the dying and the dead

Interviewing people who help us as we die and after we’re dead may seem like a very sombre niche for a podcast. But Georgie Vesty’s podcast, Dead Honest, gives a positive platform to these professions that are often overlooked. The podcast won The British Podcast Award in 2021 for Best Interview (sponsored by Pod Bible), and the judges said that Georgie “was never afraid to ask difficult questions with genuine interest”. We caught up with Georgie to ask her more about how it is to make the podcast.

Death is as much part of life as birth and breath but it’s the part that most people rarely want to talk about. Why did you feel it was important to start this podcast?

I wanted to shine a light on the people who work with death as they are so rarely ‘seen’. Like the people who collect bodies from rivers, or photograph stillborn babies, or work in the mortuaries preparing our dead. Basically, the people doing the jobs we hope someone else is doing.

So my intention with Dead Honest is to bridge people’s fear of the unknown with their curiosity to know more so they can see how extraordinary these people are.

Most of the guests you have on are problem solvers and are the people you want in the room when death has knocked whatever the circumstance. One of your recent guests, Robert Jensen, stated that “you don’t want my memories”. Why is it do you think that these people want so badly to help in such dire circumstances and often at a large cost to themselves?

All of my guests have one thing in common: a deep desire to help others at the worst of time of their lives. For most it’s less of a career, and more of a vocation. Of course, burnout is a risk, and it can take a terrible toll, but I’ve never met a group of professionals with a greater sense of job satisfaction.

The podcasts’ central theme is ‘speaking about death honestly’. I was expecting a macabre listen however I couldn’t help but feel very safe knowing that people like your guests exist in the world. I was surprised not only to feel that way but also I couldn’t stop listening. Has being the host of this podcast affected you in ways that maybe you weren’t expecting?

Yes, I am affected by some of the feedback I receive. One listener reached out to me after the recent suicide of her brother to thank me for speaking so plainly about suicide when others wouldn’t. That email meant more to me than any number of downloads, because I’m also vulnerable in these interviews. I sometimes feel I’m treading on thin ice and so to get that feedback was hugely reassuring.

I really like what you said about your guests not wanting to be misquoted or sensationalised and therefore you give them autonomy on the final edits of their stories. With such sensitive material being discussed, what are some other ways in which you conduct the podcast as to suit the guest as well as the listener?

I want my guests to listen back to their final edit and think, ’Yes, that sounds like me. That is what I wanted to say’. And central to that is building trust. If they know they are in control, they will be more candid. It also helps that I work with bereaved families, as it means we can discuss graphic issues without the fear I will be disturbed or offended.

For the listener, there’s an advantage that I’m not some generic ‘host’ or a ‘presenter’. My questions come from my own natural curiosity so hopefully I’m asking the questions they want to ask. I have been told the podcast can be a “difficult listen” and I accept it is not for everyone. But we do need to get braver about having conversations around death, if only out of respect to those we’ll meet when it eventually finds us.

Dead Honest

Listen to Dead Honest on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.

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