This week of May 14th-20th is England’s and Wales’ Dying Matters Awareness Week. It’s a yearly event by Dying Matters dedicated to spreading death positivity, awareness about preplanning, and grieving tips. Last year, the theme was “What can you do?” This year, they’ve expanded that to be “What can you do in your community?”
Funeral directors can use this event as inspiration for educating their own communities and, potentially, spreading the idea throughout North America. By hosting events to bring awareness to death, preplanning, and grieving, funeral directors can become thought leaders for their community. We’ve brainstormed some event ideas below.
Dying Matters: Death Education Events
To spread death positivity and end the taboo that surrounds death, you can educate your community about death. This way, they can learn to accept and understand it rather than fear it.
Some death education event ideas are:
- Host a death café at your funeral home or a local restaurant. Death cafés are — according to their website — a place where “people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.” It’s a great way for your community to come together and openly discuss death.
- Hold an interactive Q&A to answer your community’s questions about death. You can invite people to submit questions anonymously beforehand if they’re more comfortable with that. This also provides your staff with insight into what families think/know about death and how you can help them throughout the funeral planning process and grief.
- Have one of your funeral home’s staff members or invite a speaker to talk about death anxiety. Many people are anxious about death and even fear it, so you can help ease their minds about death.
- Invite community members to share their stories about death and loss. Whether it’s about the death of a loved one or a near-death experience, they can share their story with others to help them cope with a loss, accept their own eventual death, and live life to the fullest.
- Start monthly group discussions about death. You can hold the event at your funeral home or at a local café. It provides your community with a support system and welcoming place to discuss death.
Dying Matters: Preplanning Events
To educate families about the importance of preplanning, you can host events to encourage them to start the preplanning conversation. By preplanning, they can be better prepared for death and understanding the value of funerals.
Some preplanning event ideas are:
- Use the Funeral and Memorial Information Council’s Have the Talk of a Lifetime cards to start the conversation. The cards have questions that encourage everyone to start thinking about how they want to be remembered. You can order the cards here.
- Pinterest is another unexpected but helpful way to start the preplanning conversation. Your funeral home can host an event for families to create Pinterest boards about their funeral wishes and grief tips.
- Your funeral home can help families create their own In Case of Emergency (ICE) books. ICE books include important documents, contact information, passwords, and other vital information their loved ones will need to know in an emergency.
- A more direct approach at preplanning is to help families write a will. You can inform them of all the necessary information they should include in their will, such as their assets and heirs.
- Another event idea is to just get people thinking about and writing down their end-of-life wishes. You can host an interactive event where you ask everyone questions and they write down their responses. You also can provide them with resources and your funeral home’s contact information if they want to document their preplanning wishes.
Dying Matters: Grief Events
To help families with their grief journey, you can host events to provide them with healthy grieving tips and resources. They can learn the best way for them to grieve their loss.
Some grief event ideas are:
- Host educational seminars or webinars to educate your community about the grieving process. Everyone grieves differently, but you can still provide them with some tools that may work for them.
- If your funeral home has a therapy dog, invite families to spend time with your four-legged team member. Or you can partner with your local animal shelter to hold an event for families to come play with the animals.
- Organize a community nature walk to help families relieve some stress and clear their minds. Scientists have proven that fresh air helps regulate serotonin in our brains — which stabilizes our happiness and mood.
- Have a member of your funeral home’s staff or invite a grief counselor to speak to your community. They can help them understand the emotions they’re feeling and provide them with ways to cope.
- Hold weekly or monthly support group meetings to help provide your community with a healthy grieving network. They can share their stories and help others cope with their loss.
How does your funeral home educate your community about dying? Share your advice in the comments below!