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Better Off Dead

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#12 Velvet Ray

Listen to #12 Velvet Ray

Ray Godbold is a palliative care nurse faced with terminal cancer – but he doesn’t want to die in palliative care.

Robyn and Ray Godbold

Robyn and Ray Godbold — Photo: Andrew Denton

Ray knows what some doctors prefer not to admit. He knows that, even in palliative care, not everything can be taken care of; that a patient’s choices about how they die are very limited; and that, sometimes, their dying involves a wildness nobody can predict.

What Ray doesn’t know is that his own death will turn out to be everything he was hoping that he and his family would be spared.

'I've been there when lots of people have had terrible deaths. No matter what palliative care people say, the last 24 to 48 hours of somebody's life can be completely unexpected.'

Ray Godbold
The Godbold children: Tara, Ella and Rory

Ray and Robyn Godbold's children: Tara, Ella and Rory — Photo: Andrew Denton

Please note: this podcast is not about suicide. If you are interested in increasing your understanding of suicide and how to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation, visit the Conversations Matter or beyondblue websites.

If you (or someone you know) require immediate assistance, contact one of the following 24/7 crisis support services: Lifeline (13 11 14), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), MensLine (1300 78 99 78), beyondblue (1300 22 4636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or eheadspace (1800 650 890).

Photo of Ray Godbold

Ray at Tullamarine Airport — Photo: Robyn Godbold

Know more

In this episode

  • Ray Godbold
  • Robyn Godbold
  • Ella Godbold
  • Rory Godbold
  • Tara Szafraniec (née Godbold)

Our theme music was composed by Zig Zag Lane for Zapruder's Other Films, and edited by Jon Tjhia. Music used in this episode includes 'Life Story' (Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm), 'Longplay' (Luke Howard), 'Familiar' (Nils Frahm), 'We're All Leaving' (Arcade Fire), 'Abandon Window' (Jon Hopkins), 'Ain't No Grave Going to Hold Me Down' (Charlie Parr), 'untitled #1 (vaka)' (Sigur Rós) and 'Forty-Eight Angels' (Paul Kelly).

Your stories

If you're suffering, or someone you love has died badly – in a hospital, in palliative care, in a nursing home, or at home – add your voice and tell your story here.

Further information

Better Off Dead is produced by Thought Fox and the Wheeler Centre.

Executive producers Andrew Denton and Michael Williams. Producer and researcher Bronwen Reid. For Better Off Dead, the Wheeler Centre team includes Director Michael Williams, Head of Programming Emily Sexton, Head of Marketing and Communications Emily Harms, Projects Producer Amita Kirpalani and Digital Manager Jon Tjhia. Editing, sound design and mix on this episode is by Martin Peralta. Additional editing by Jess Fairfax.

Thank you

Thanks to Paul Kelly and Sony ATV for the use of his song ‘Forty Eight Angels’.

The series

Subscribe in iTunes, or your favourite podcast app. #betteroffdeadpod

Better Off Dead is produced by Thought Fox in partnership with the Wheeler Centre. It is written and created by Andrew Denton for Thought Fox.


Portrait of Andrew Denton

Andrew Denton

Andrew Denton is widely recognised as one of Australian media's genuinely creative forces.


All messages as part of this discussion and any opinions, advice, statements, or other information contained in any messages or transmitted by any third party are the responsibility of the author of that message and not the Wheeler Centre.

Better Off Dead

Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia.