As estate planning attorneys, you know how hard it can be to get people to discuss and plan ahead for end-of-life issues. Less than 30% of adults do any end-of-life planning, such as wills and trusts, advance medical directive and preneed funeral planning (and that’s being generous).
But the Silver Tsunami of Baby Boomers is getting ready to crash on the shore of mortality, as 10,000 people turn 65 every single day. This will continue for the next 15 years. And these people want to talk about it.
Over the past 10 years, at least eight death discussion movements have taken hold around the English-speaking world, involving tens of thousands of participants. They include Dying Matters Awareness Week in the United Kingdom; Death Cafes around the world; Dying to Know Death in Australia; Death Over Dinner events worldwide; Death Salons; Before I Die Festivals; Reimagine End of Life Festivals; and End Well Symposiums.
These movements are highlighted in this 18-minute speech, “Your Customers are Discussing Death, Where are You?” I presented this DEAD Talk (think TED talks) at the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s 2019 Wide World of Sales conference. While the ideas are suggested for outreach by funeral homes and cemeteries, they will also work for estate planning law firms to make community connections for new clients.
How can you be a part of the conversation? Here are links to the websites for these death discussion movements. Let’s get those conversations started!
Dying Matters: www.DyingMatters.org
A coalition of individuals and organizations fostering conversations about death, dying and bereavement in the UK, Scotland and Wales involving tens of thousands of participants.
Dying to Know Day: www.DyingToKnowDay.org
Now in its sixth year, Dying to Know Day is Australia’s biggest community conversation about death. D2KDay promotes death literacy, normalizing conversations about death and dying, and planning ahead.
Death Cafe: www.DeathCafe.com
A social franchise where individuals host get-togethers to eat, drink, and discuss death. The objective is to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” Since it started in September 2011, more than 7,500 Death Cafes have been held in 62 countries around the world (as of December 2018).
Before I Die Festivals (UK and US)
Before I Die festivals boldly take death out of the closet through a host of entertaining and engaging free or low-cost activities.
2013: Cardiff University, Wales
2014: University of York www.BeforeIDieFestival.co.uk
2016: University of Indiana School of Nursing, Indianapolis, IN
2016: Louisville, KY www.BeforeIDieLou.com
2017: Albuquerque, NM (plus Santa Fe in 2018) www.BeforeIDieNM.com
Death Over Dinner: www.DeathOverDinner.org
The Death Over Dinner website provides a simple set of tools to help family and friends hold difficult conversations over the comforting ritual of breaking bread.
Death Salon: www.DeathSalon.org
Death Salons are “events that bring together intellectuals and independent thinkers engaged in the exploration of our shared mortality by sharing knowledge and art.”
Reimagine End of Life Festivals: www.LetsReimagine.org
Reimagine End of Life is a nonprofit organization that hosts a week of public conversations exploring life and death, living life to the fullest, and preparing for the time we won’t be here anymore. Events in San Francisco and New York City in 2018 drew thousands of participants.
End Well Symposium: www.EndWellProject.org
This one-day symposium in San Francisco brings together multiple visionary speakers on mortality and transforming how we die. Plans are in the works to bring the symposium to multiple markets.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a pioneering death educator who works with companies to connect with baby boomers concerned about end-of-life issues. She’s also a Certified Funeral Celebrant and coordinator of the Before I Die New Mexico Festival. In a previous lifetime, she was a public relations professional and an event planner. Albuquerque Business First named her one of their 2019 Women of Influence. Learn more at www.AGoodGoodbye.com or www.BeforeIDieNM.com.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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