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Death Cafes, Death Festivals

Jake Harper/WFYI

Below we share with you an segment and article from from Jake Harper.

Death Talk Is Cool At This Festival

In Indianapolis’ Crown Hill Cemetery, 45 people recently gathered around a large blackboard. The words “Before I Die, I Want To …” were stenciled on the board in bold white letters.

People at the event grabbed a piece of chalk to write down their dreams, too, including some whimsical ones: “hold a sloth”, “visit an active volcano” and to “finally see Star Wars”.

part of the city’s Before I Die Festival, a weekend-long event with 22 activities held around the city in mid-April — the first festival of its kind in the U.S. The original one was held in Cardiff, Wales, in 2013, and the idea has since spread to the U.K., and now to Indianapolis.

The purpose of these gatherings is to get people thinking ahead and to spark conversations about topics like what they want to accomplish in their remaining days, end-of-life care, funeral arrangements, wills, organ donation, good deaths and bad. The festival included films, book discussions and death-related art.

These festivals grew out of a larger movement that includes Death Cafes, salon-like discussions of death that are held in dozens of cities around the country, and Before I Die walls — chalked lists of aspirational reflections that have now gone up in more than 1,000 neighborhoods around the world.

“Death has changed,” Wocial said. “Years ago people just died. Now death, in many cases, is an orchestrated event.”

National Public Radio


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