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Dying to Know Day - 8 August

Author: Rob Gill
15 July 2015

Australia marks its third annual Dying to Know Day on 8 August – just over three weeks away.

The GroundSwell Project’s Kerrie Noonan instigated Dying to Know Day as a grassroots movement with the purpose of bringing to life conversations and community actions about death, dying and bereavement.

“We want to encourage everyone to develop death literacy and be informed about end of life planning,” she said.

The sentiment in favour of this is widespread. The patron of Palliative Care Nurses Australia, Jean Kittson, wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on her family’s reticence to discuss dying and how Palliative Care Australia had embarked on the campaign to get people talking.

Ms Noonan says that since 2013 there have been over 80 Dying to Know Day events and installations in Australia and internationally, including film nights, Q&A sessions, death cafes, exhibitions, talks and public information stalls.

“Anyone can host an event, be they public or private, big or small – it’s entirely up to the individual, so getting involved can be as simple as taking personal action.”

Ms Noonan says the best way to take part is by doing what you love. “If it's talking, host a talk, if you love writing, contribute a blog; cooking, prepare a meal for a carer. The great thing about Dying to Know Day is that every action matters. Let your passions and strengths be your guide.”

She suggests alternatives. “Host a private gathering in your home with family and friends. What about a Death Café or a film night with friends?”

There is also the potential for local partnerships to drive the message further. “A partner might be a local cafe, arts centre, health service, funeral director/cemetery, palliative care service, solicitor, aged care, church group. Partners have access to people and they might even provide a venue.”

Brisbane based spiritual carer and death midwife Carly-Jay Metcalfe is running her first Dying to Know Day event this year. You can read her blog or watch her TEDx talk.

If you’re still bereft of ideas, the Dying To Know Day event page will put you in touch with people who have run events over the past three years who are willing to share ideas and suggestions. You can also email for assistance.

You can order the Groundswell Project’s Death Literacy discussion cards and Dying to Know books.

See more articles in Community engagement

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