COVID has impacted funerals and the end-of-life industry

YOUR CHOICE: More people are taking control of end-of-life decisions, organising their own funeral and making it a celebration that brings friends and relatives together in an event marking a life well lived. Photos: Shutterstock
YOUR CHOICE: More people are taking control of end-of-life decisions, organising their own funeral and making it a celebration that brings friends and relatives together in an event marking a life well lived. Photos: Shutterstock

LOSS of religious faith and changing laws on euthanasia have meant death is no longer taboo.

We are more prepared to acknowledge our own mortality thanks to Dying to Know Day initiatives.

Held on August 8, the annual campaign aims to encourage people to start preparing for their own or a loved one's death by talking about the end of life.

There is much for which we can prepare while still alive.

It is not just the inevitable, such as choosing where we want to die (a 2015 federal government survey found just over half of all Australians died in hospital, despite many wanting to die at home).

Taking control of your own death means preparing a will, as well as preparing how you choose to be remembered.

COVID has had a massive impact on funerals...

Adrian Barrett, Australian Funeral Directors Association

People can now plan their own funeral; where and how they want to be interred.

Australian Funeral Directors Association president Adrian Barrett says more people see funerals as a way of "getting together to mark someone's life, a celebration and a ritual".

"COVID has had a massive impact on funerals and changed the way we conduct services," Mr Barrett says.

Sporadic lockdowns mean last-minute changes to venues and numbers of guests.

"Half our funerals are now live-streamed; people are aware of streaming as an option, especially for mourners who are overseas and can't be at the funeral in person.

"Often, the celebrant or clergy person welcomes and acknowledges those people logging in remotely."

Another initiative offered by funeral homes is online tributes, where loved ones can leave messages and photos as a "digital memorial".

"It's been a tough time, but we have been on the front line of event management," Mr Barrett says.

It's time to take charge of your own "death event". Embrace technology and work with family and friends for your best send-off.

Film, discussion and group chats across Australia mark Dying to Know Day

Several events will be held across the country during August to mark Dying to Know Day.

In Leura, NSW, Lifetime Funerals managing director Death Doula will oversee Death over a Beer, discussing funerals and burials, cremations and other death-associated topics.

It will be held on August 5 at the Lapstone Hotel, Blaxland.

Nillumbik Shire Council has organised a talk about dying and how to support bereavement at Bridges Restaurant in Hurstbridge, Victoria on August 6.

A film and discussion event, Dying to Know, will be held at Kangaroo Island Community Centre in Kingscote, South Australia, on August 8.

For a full list of all activities marking Dying to Know Day, visit thegroundswellproject.com/events-d2kday2021

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