Doing death differently: from pub talk to coffin decorating

Dying To Know Day encourages healthy dialogue about our final exit

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BETTER WAYS TO SAY GOODBYE: Dying To Know Day in the hope of encouraging people to talk more about the sensitive topics of death, dying and bereavement.

BETTER WAYS TO SAY GOODBYE: Dying To Know Day in the hope of encouraging people to talk more about the sensitive topics of death, dying and bereavement.

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Events will be hosted by funeral directors, cemeteries, grief counsellors and other end-of-life experts.

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FIRST there was politics in the pub. Then congregations of church-goers were welcomed into bars around the country to bash out ideas around religion.

Now Aussies are being urged to talk about that other "taboo" - death - over a beer.

Geelong Cemeteries Trust is inviting people to mingle with end-of-life experts over a drink or two at its "death bar" - part of the Living and Dying: Let's Talk event in Portarlington to mark Dying to Know Day on August 8.

The day is series of events around around the country.hosted by funeral directors, cemeteries, grief counsellors and other end-of-life experts.

It is an initiative of the GroundSwell Project, a non-profit organisation that seeks to create social and cultural change around death, dying and bereavement.

Also at the Portarlington death day 12 experts will take part in speed-talking seminars on end-of-life care.

The death bar and death cafe will create an opportunity to ask questions about death and grief in a relaxed atmosphere over a coffee or a beer. There will also be a complimentary buffet lunch, workshops and meditation.

Ballarat Hospice Care medical director David Brumley will be the keynote speaker, discussing his work and the importance of being prepared for death.

"There are many practical ways in which we can make changes to support our own community members who are suffering," he said.

"If we don't know what is ahead, we can't plan, and can't do the work of dying. It's important that we do the things we want to do to complete our lives.

"The best way to improve the care of the sick in our community is to build the community itself in ways that will support them. We are all in this together."

The speakers will discuss the different processes associated with dying, including palliative care, elder rights, hope bereavement and advanced care planning. Presentations will also be given by the trust, Compassionate Hearts on the Bellarine and a local lawyer.

Meanwhile in NSW, Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium in northern Sydney will hold a free on the day in the hope of encouraging people to talk more about the sensitive topics.

"Some people can really struggle socially, culturally and personally with the concept of even starting healthy dialogue around the often delicate and complex issues associated with death and dying," said Northern Cemeteries chief executive officer Pauline Tritton.

"Dying To Know Day is a wonderful opportunity for informed discussions - in a supportive and safe environment - allowing people to talk directly with those working in the industry, as well as learn about how to have important conversations with their family and friends."

Attractions include walks and talks, historic hearses, coffin decorating, Memento Mori photo display (artistic or symbolic reminders of mortality), death cafe and therapeutic harp playing.

The North Ryde RSL Sub Branch will mark Victory in the Pacific Day celebrations, while other presenters include Indigenous broadcaster Susan Moylan Coombs on Aboriginal attitudes towards death; funeral directors; celebrants; and cemetery representatives speaking about "doing death differently".

"We strive to be always caring and relevant," Ms Tritton said, "and that means letting people of all ages know we are here as much for the living as we are for those who are remembered."

Event details

Dying To Know Day, Macquarie Park Cemetery, August 8, 10am-3pm. Corner Delhi and Plassey Roads, North Ryde, NSW. northerncemeteries.com.au/macquarie-park

Living and Dying: Let's Talk, August 8, 12-6.30pm, Portarlington Parks Hall, 87 Newcombe Street, Portarlington, VIC. To RSVP, click here or phone (03) 5249-3939.

To find Dying To Know events elsewhere around Australia, go to dyingtoknowday.org

Read more:Dying wishes under review

Read more:It's time to talk about it: how to bring death into the light

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