Hello and welcome!

By Gina Vliet

Welcome to Charon Consulting, where my goal is to help you plan for your inevitable demise! <insert evil laughter here> But seriously, welcome. I know death and dying are not things people generally like to talk about, but that’s okay, I’ll ease you into it. You’ll be fine.


I’d like to start with how I got into this gig, as that’s usually what people want to know when I tell them what I do for a living. Sometimes I ease them in by stating I’m a change management specialist (true story), but with a focus on death and dying. On rare occasions I’ve even been mistaken for an assassin. (I can neither confirm nor deny that rumour.) Usually I just smile and say I help people get their ducks in a row before they die. I mean, who doesn’t like to see ducks in rows, am I right! Anatidaephobia sufferers maybe not so much, but there are no actual ducks here, so you’re safe navigating this site for your death education and end of life planning.


But back to the origin story. When I started researching careers in death and dying, I found that traumatic personal experience was a common denominator for many in the death industry. Whether it was bearing witness to an aging/ill loved one who did not die well, having a poor experience with funeral planning, or facing escalated family drama over the deceased’s estate, their final wishes, or even their remains, their path to careers in the death industry always tended to include a dead body along the way.


My story, however, did not. At least not at first. Not with the corpse of someone I knew. If you check out my BIO you will see I have a degree in Anthropology, a field where dead bodies abound. I’d focused my studies on comparative mythology and thanatology, and at some point wrote an archaeological thesis on modern mortuary practices. Death in the abstract was no stranger, but personal experience with it was not my catalyst setting me on this path. For me the common denominator was change.


In early 2017, after almost 20 years in the energy sector here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I decided I needed a change. Being a change management specialist was quite useful here, by the way. “Physician heal thyself”, as they say. I took stock of my values, needs, skills, and goals, and decided it was time to embrace death. The industry, not the state of being.


I had project and change management, leadership, and teaching expertise, but I needed some grounding in death and dying in Canada. So I went back to school. I studied death taxation, federal and provincial laws around death, pensions and benefits, insurance, trusts, real estate and asset management, Power of Attorney, Advance Care Directives, wills, probate, executorship, beneficiaries, funeral planning, stress, grief, counselling, mediation, and conflict resolution. Which is the long-winded way of saying I studied to become a Certified Executor Advisor.


An Executor has financial, legal, and social responsibilities surrounding the estate of the dearly departed. It’s a job nobody’s really prepared for, and it can be a complex task. But I can help with that. I know where to find the information and the people estate owners and executors need to get through the planning, implementation, and closing of an estate. I’m making it my business to map it all out on this website, and to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to die a good death. One where you have all your proverbial ducks in a row! I am also currently working on getting my funeral pre-planning sales license; another service I will be able to provide my clients.


In closing, remember death is just change. And change can be described as a kind of death; the death of what once was. We experience the same emotions and face the same problem-solving challenges with death as we do with any other change. Lucky for us, the tools and techniques we need to move through our emotional state into a place where we can get shit done are the same, regardless of the type, size, or scope of the change. Yes, even with death!


Change is uncomfortable, but it’s also inevitable, so we need to find a way through it. Let’s get comfortable with death. Let’s get comfortable making arrangements for our final rite of passage as a human being. Let’s get comfortable having important conversations with our loved ones about what a good death means to us. And with that comfort, that acknowledgement of our own mortality, our lives become more significant and joyful, and isn’t that what makes it worth living?


Let me be your guide through the uncomfortable, the unexpected, and on to the inevitable. I promise we’ll have fun along the way.