The purpose of Dying to Know Day on August 8 is to encourage in-depth conversations about the one thing all humans share — mortality. After reading the book “Dying to Know: Bringing Death to Life,” the Australian organisation The Groundswell Project decided to dedicate an entire day to destigmatizing the topic of death and educating others on how to die in accordance with their own wishes. On this holiday, it is hoped that we will all embrace and prepare for death so that we can live even more fully in the present.
The background of Dying to Know Day
Andrew Anastasios had no idea when he published his eccentric self-help book about death and dying in 2010 that it would ignite an entire movement, several organisations, and a widely celebrated holiday. The Groundswell Project, which continues to operate in Marrickville, New South Wales, adopted Anastasios’s concepts regarding death awareness, normalisation, and literacy and dubbed August 8 Dying to Know Day, after the title of his book.
The first D2KD, as the death education community affectionately refers to it, hosted only 23 events in the Sydney, Australia area in 2013. Over 300 gatherings, meetings, and events will be held on August 8 to commemorate this concept.
According to The Groundswell Project and the D2KD USA organisation, the practical applications of de-stigmatizing death include writing a will and obituary, discussing end-of-life plans with loved ones in the event of a terminal illness, disease, or injury, and even making funeral arrangements. On D2KD, even the healthiest, youngest, and most distant from death are encouraged to consider their inevitable demise and decide how they would like to be laid to rest.
Intriguingly, Dying to Know Day honours both the living and the deceased. Not only are we encouraged to contemplate our own death, but also the death of our friends and family members who have already occurred. In addition to end-of-life planning, D2KD addresses grief, bereavement, and loss management. Each year, 364 days are spent avoiding thoughts of death and dying and feeling unable to discuss such topics in public. However, on August 8, the taboo is lifted and people from all over the world are permitted to ask questions, have conversations, and express their emotions.
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In 300 A.D., ancient Romans began dying their togas black before attending death ceremonies, establishing the long-standing tradition of donning black to a funeral.
Before the Industrial Revolution, relatives and acquaintances of the deceased placed flowers and candles in the room with the corpse to mask the odour of decay.
During the Victorian era in England, mourners would halt their analogue clocks at the precise moment they learned a loved one had passed away.
Prior to the 20th century, it was a cultural norm in Europe for families to employ mourners to weep and carry on at the funeral of a family member; a large, tearful funeral signified a high social standing.
The Irish tradition of playing loud music at a person’s wake began as a way to ward off evil spirits, but it quickly evolved into a way to ensure that the deceased was truly dead — if they weren’t, it was believed that the loud music would awaken them.
DYING TO KNOW DAY DATES