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Carly-Jay Metcalfe is a writer, spiritual carer and death midwife. Originally a Brisbane based writer, she can be found flitting between Barcaldine and Bangalow while she packs as much into her life as possible. Carly-Jay is a full-time healthcare provider (to herself) after receiving a double lung transplant in 1998 with just days to live. She was 21. Cancer tried to kill her in 2007, but failed (again), which leads her to believe that she’s impossible to kill. Carly-Jay is ridiculously happy to be alive, though that doesn’t make her immune to sadness.

Her fiction, memoir and poetry have been published in various anthologies, and her short story ‘The Twelve Hands of Mother Lode’, published in Wet Ink’s ‘Emerge’ anthology was lauded as ‘warm and evocative’ by the Sydney Morning Herald. It was also a finalist in the  State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award many moons ago. A work of non-fiction was published in the Vignette Press ‘Death Mook’ in 2009, and more recently, she was invited to collaborate on a poem for the 200th issue of Overland, and has been published in the Stylus Poetry Review, Four and Twenty, Australian Poetry’s online publication sotto, several issues of Regime: magazine of new writing, and most recently Cordite Poetry Review and Tincture Journal.

Carly-Jay has presented papers at writing conferences, performed her work at the Woodford Folk Festival and was the first writer to perform at the 2high festival. She has been short-listed and runner-up for various literary awards, appeared at the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne, and was poet-in-residence at Black Star Coffee for the first six months of 2012 where she wrote more than 11,000 words of poetry *wipes brow*

Carly-Jay is currently working on a screenplay, a novel set in 1973 outback Queensland and her memoir ‘chasing away salt water’ – all projects she will continue working on until they’re filed under ‘felina’.*

Having been obsessed with interested in dying and death since she was a young girl, Carly-Jay’s life direction changed in 2010 when she discovered her true passion and purpose in caring for the dying through Karuna, a hospice service in Brisbane run by Tibetan Buddhist nuns. Carly-Jay has engaged in other death care education including a six month Death Midwifery course with world-renowned palliative care physician and death educator Dr. Michael Barbato, as well as ‘Deathwalker’ training with Zenith Virago from Byron Bay’s Natural Death Care Centre.

In October of 2014, Carly-Jay was asked to speak at TEDx Brisbane where she spoke about her life, her death(s), her passion for caring for the dying and how we need to weave conversations about death into the everyday. In 2015, Carly-Jay halted her Masters studies to complete her first unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, and now works at Brisbane’s biggest trauma hospital as their first secular pastoral carer.

In 2017, Carly-Jay will undertake her palliative care volunteer training with Karuna, and is working with friend and colleague Jacky Arbuckle to bring a secular community-based hospice service into being. ‘Nurture – Compassionate End-of-Life Care’ plans to return dying and death to both the community and the family home – a return to the old ways, if you will. ‘Nurture’ is about creating meaningful and sustainable choices for people who are facing the end of their lives, and returning the sacred to dying and death. 

Through her work, writing and speaking, Carly-Jay is hoping to get as many people thinking and talking about dying and death as possible, and she hopes that by writing in the third person that she doesn’t come across as a twat of the highest order.

* Google it.

20 thoughts on “carly-jay metcalfe

  1. Hi Carly-Jay, thanks for following my blog 🙂
    I have really enjoyed scrolling through yours too.
    What an amazing journey you’ve been and are continuing on! I am truly inspired by your words.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Sarah 🙂 I realised not long ago that a fellow goddess (Keri) and I dated the same egotistical narcissistic a while back – did he pi$$ in her bed, too? -_- So, onto bigger and better things – I’ve been following you and have fallen in love with ‘You gotta FAITH it ’til you make it’. It’s something I look forward to sharing among my family and friends. Keep up the good work! xoxo

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      1. Ha! Re the egonarc: I don’t know if you’re speaking metaphorically or literally (chances are, a bit of both) but either way it’s priceless and Keri and I enjoyed it very much 🙂
        Thanks for sharing… Glad to make your acquaintance xx

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      2. Choose from the following names: Peter, Paul, Mary … for a long time I called him something completely different 😀 Could you both be on the lookout for a friend request on FB. It will be what I call myself ‘spiritually’ (kidding! But it’s different to my real name) xoxo

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  2. Hi Carly-Jay,
    I am delighted to find your blog. Lea mentioned your blog to me. I love your Kitchen Table project and would love to do a Sydney chapter if you get it going. I have a life-threatening auto-immune disease which started attacking my lungs giving me fibrosis. Currently in remission but the whole death convo which still freaks me out a bit even though I have mellowed. We have family near Bangalow so perhaps we could have a coffee some time. My aunt is a funeral director and she’s great on the subject and I also find people who work in nursing homes have great insights.
    Lung transplants aren’t a great option for me so I am trying to look after the lungs I’ve got. I seem to have more lives than a cat! Take care & best wishes Rowena

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    1. Hi Rowena! Thank you so much for connecting 🙂 I don’t have a Sydney chapter of The Kitchen Table Project per se – I’m planning for it to be national initiative, but you never know how it will take shape.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your medical trials, but they make us more stubborn and determined to survive. Or more than survive – to really LIVE. I would love to meet you, so the next time I’m down, I’ll be in touch 🙂 It seems we have a lot to talk about. Big love to you XO

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  3. Hi Carly,
    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I have only just found your blog but I can sense it’s the beginning of a wonderful journey. I also think you’ll appreciate the other blogs nominated. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/accepting-the-very-inspiring-bloggers-award/
    Hope you have a great weekend coming up. I am about to head off for a coffee with afew friends before school pick up. It happens way too rarely xx Rowena

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  4. Thank you for liking my “About” page. Wow, you have been through so much at such a young age! I admire your positive outlook on life and your desire to help others despite the hardships you face. I sympathize with your situation because I take care of my elderly father who is struggling with some serious health problems caused by diabetes.

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