Since Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen got that job in 2004, he’s implemented a number of novel programs – everything from an online database of slave trade documents to a card that provides veterans with discounts at local businesses.
However, the brand new project from the deeds office is perhaps the most interesting one of all.
Thigpen is creating a series of podcasts that deal with death and end-of-life issues. The series is meant to provide people with the tools and knowledge they need to address both the emotional and business sides of dealing with death.
The stated mission of the “Good Grief” podcast series is to “tackle this discomfort head-on by speaking unapologetically about issues of death and dying.”
The first episode – one that introduces the program and explains what it’s all about – is already up at www.guilfordcountync.gov/our-county/register-of-deeds. “Good Grief” will also be available through the usual Apple and Android podcast outlets, as well as through Spotify.
Thigpen said this week that, though death comes to everyone, death and end-of-life issues are things that often don’t get talked about.
Thigpen, a former Guilford County commissioner, first got the idea years ago during conversations with former Guilford County Commissioner Mary Rakestraw after her husband died. In addition to the emotional pain, Rakestraw shared with Thigpen many of the issues she faced. For instance, she had trouble getting the contents of her husband’s safety deposit box, where her husband was holding some items for her.
Thigpen said Rakestraw said, “Good grief!” a lot during those conversations, and that’s where the title came from. Rakestraw will appear in an upcoming episode of the podcast.
Four more episodes will be posted at the beginning of April with more available at the start of each month.
Thigpen conceived of the idea long before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic has made these issues even more timely.
“Death has been pitching a lot of no-hitters recently,” Thigpen, a former baseball player, said.
He also said that, since death is an experience shared by everyone, the topic can bring people together.
“Death is one of the most bipartisan issues,” he said.
According to Thigpen, there are already a lot of community resources available to help those going through the death of a loved one, and he aims to bring those to the forefront and make sure people know about them. The podcast series contains over 30 interviews with community and faith leaders, caregivers, healthcare professionals, funeral directors and others.
There will also be a podcast addressing issues surrounding the death of pets.
Thigpen said one podcast episode will even look at light-hearted issues related to death – for instance, an exploration into where the expression “dead as a doornail” comes from.
As a local government department providing death certificates, the Register of Deeds office is very familiar with the challenges people face when navigating end-of-life issues. Thigpen said talking about death can be uncomfortable – but avoiding those conversations can really cause harm and can lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion down the road.
New episodes will be released at the start of each month.
Those interested can subscribe to get alerts when new episodes become available and can find podcasts links on Twitter and Facebook.
Thigpen said he’d like to hear ideas from people in the community. Any feedback or questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org posted to an online form.