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Dying to Know Day, on August 8, is all about fostering deep conversations about the one thing all humans have in common — death. After reading a book called “Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life,” an Australian organization called The Groundswell Project decided to dedicate an entire day to destigmatizing the topic of dying and educating others on how to die in a way that stays true to themselves and their wishes. The hope, on this holiday, is that we’ll all accept and plan on death so that we can live even better in the present moment.
History of Dying to Know Day
When Andrew Anastasios published his quirky self-help book about death and dying in 2010, he had no idea it would spark an entire movement, several organizations, and a widely recognized holiday. The Groundswell Project, which operates to this day in Marrickville, New South Wales, took Anastasios’s ideas about death awareness, normalization, and literacy and decided to make August 8 Dying to Know Day, named after his book.
The first D2KD, as it’s affectionately called by those in the death-education community, hosted only 23 events in the Sydney, Australia area in 2013. Now, there are over 300 gatherings, meetings, and events taking place on August 8 in celebration of this idea.
According to The Groundswell Project and the D2KD USA organization, the practical applications for destigmatizing the topic of death include writing one’s will and obituary, discussing end-of-life plans with loved ones in the case of severe illness, disease, or injury, and even making funeral arrangements. On D2KD, even the healthiest, youngest, and furthest from dying are invited to allow themselves to think about their inevitable end and determine how they’d like to be laid to rest.
Interestingly, Dying to Know Day is devoted equally to the living and the dead. We are not only encouraged to consider our own passing from life but also the already-completed passing of our friends and family members. In addition to end-of-life planning, D2KD is also about grief, bereavement, and coping with loss. 364 days out of each year are spent avoiding thoughts of death and dying and feeling unable to discuss such subject matter publicly but, on August 8, the taboo is suspended and people across the world are allowed to ask questions, have conversations, express feelings, and make plans.
Dying to Know Day timeline
World War II is the war responsible for the most deaths across the globe, reaching between 70–100 million lives lost.
Andrew Anastasios publishes his playful death-oriented book “Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life.”
The Groundswell Project organizes and celebrates their first Dying to Know Day with events and gatherings in Australia
For the first time since its beginning, Dying to Know Day is held digitally so as to follow pandemic protocols.
Dying to Know Day FAQs
Do I have to be buried in a cemetery?
There are countless ways to have your body laid to rest. Some prefer cremation while others opt to be used as fertilizer for planting a new tree (hello, Mother Earth!) What’s important is choosing the method that feels most like you.
If I’m still young, why should I worry about dying?
The truth is that death does not only arrive through old age or terminal illness. Car accidents, allergic reactions, and even snake bites can be fatal. Even if you’ve got decades of living ahead of you, you’ll want to use this day to make a tentative plan for your unlikely death.
Won’t death conversations upset my parents/spouse/friends?
When approaching the topic of death with loved ones, be prepared for some reluctant or stiff reactions. The best way to soften your friends and family to the conversation is to explain why you’re interested in having the discussion and assure them that you just want the best for everyone involved.
How to Celebrate Dying to Know Day
Host a dinner party
One of the recommended celebratory initiatives touted by D2KD USA is the Death over Dinner program, which encourages participants to gather their loved ones in their homes for the express purpose of discussing each guest’s death wishes and priorities. Throw together some comfort food and bring a notepad to the dining table so that you can record every last word.
Read the book
If you’re interested in this holiday but aren’t quite ready to take radical action, simply purchasing or borrowing Anastasios’s book may be a great middle-ground. Between the two covers, you’ll find all the foundational arguments and information that have brought this day of remembrance into being.
Begin writing your will
Whether you’re a youngster in your first apartment or a grandparent in your last home, your last will and testament will be equally valuable to your family members. Why not sit down and begin writing out your wishes? You can always edit the document as circumstances shift and change.
5 Facts About Funerals That’ll Knock You Dead
The long-held tradition of wearing black to a funeral actually originated as far back as 300 A.D. when ancient Romans began dying their togas black before attending death ceremonies.
Before the Industrial Revolution, friends and family of the deceased kept flowers and candles in the room with the body to mask the unpleasant odor of decay.
Frozen in time
During the Victorian era in England, mourners used to stop their analog clocks at the exact time that they discovered their loved one had passed.
Take a bow
Before the 20th century, it was a cultural norm in Europe for families to hire mourners to wail and carry on at their loved one’s funeral — a large, weepy funeral symbolized high status and reputation.
The Irish tradition of playing loud music at a person’s wake was originally meant to ward off any evil spirits and soon shifted into a tactic for ensuring that the deceased was truly dead — if they weren’t, it was thought that the blasting tunes would awaken them.
Why we Love Dying to Know Day
Conversation makes death less scary
While it’s normal to fear death and even resist thinking or speaking about it, the mission of D2KD allows us all to press through that fear toward a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. After talking with others about the inevitability of death and how we’d personally like to die, we’re likely to feel much more at ease.
Planning ensures that we die happy
According to The Groundswell Project, 41% of people want to die in their own homes, but only 25% actually get to do so. Open communication about end-of-life desires allows more people to pass away in the exact way that they feel most comfortable.
Accepting death means enjoying life
After all the somber exchanges, will-writing, and research about death, we’ll be left with a new outlook on what’s left of our lives. By accepting our own mortality, we open up new doors of gratitude and joy for the moments we still have to live.
Dying to Know Day dates