Despite some recent strides, death is still a difficult topic for Americans to talk about.
A study conducted by the Funeral and Memorial Informational Council (FAMIC) found that while 89% of people believe that “a discussion about their end-of-life wishes would be meaningful,” only 17% have had one.
The study reflects what the NFDA recently found, too. They found that around 62% of families thought that “it was very important to communicate their funeral plans and wishes to family members prior to their own death.” But only 21.4% have done so. One of the reasons the NFDA listed was that people simply haven’t thought much about their funeral wishes.
These studies seemingly reflect our public opinion on death — that, despite its inevitability, it’s something we avoid talking about.
But there are some movements trying to change that. One such event is the Before I Die Festival, which holds annual events that encourage an open discussion about death.
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Before I Die… A Festival for the Living About Dying
The Before I Die Festival is a six-day festival that’s held in cities across the U.S. and the U.K. The original festival began back in 2013 in Wales. It has since spread to cities such as Indianapolis, Louisville, and Albuquerque.
According to a press release from the Before I Die Albuquerque festival, the events are “part of a growing social movement to foster reflection about how we as individuals and as a society manage death and dying… Even though humans have a 100% mortality rate, less than 30% of us make any end-of-life plans. What will get adults to discuss and plan for their eventual demise? Put some “fun” in funeral planning to get people to discuss this serious topic.”
These festivals include a variety of activities designed for promoting positive discussions on something we will all have to face at some point. For example, some events include:
- Tours of cemeteries
- Death café discussions
- Q&A with local funeral directors
- Panel discussions on medical and end-of-life issues
The festival coordinator for the Albuquerque Festival and award-winning author, Gail Rubin, said that “By providing space and opportunities to openly discuss end-of-life issues, we can improve the percentage of those who plan ahead and take actions to address our mortality.”
Bring the Discussion to Your Community
If your funeral home is looking for inspiration to start the conversation, here are some creative ways to get started:
- Host an event where families create and share their bucket lists.
- Encourage families to create an In Case of Emergency (ICE) book.
- Share Have the Talk of a Lifetime conversation cards with families.
Is your funeral home helping with the death positive movement? We’d love to hear from you! Share your story with us in the comments below!