Articles > Dying to Know: Make this August the month for an important conversation

Dying to Know: Make this August the month for an important conversation

The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

End of life, it’s something that happens to everyone – it’s part of life. Yet did you know that 82 per cent of Australian’s agree it’s a meaningful conversation, though only 28 per cent have had it?

That’s over 50 per cent of people not sharing with their next of kin how they want to be cared for when they prepare to exit this world, and that’s where Dying to Know Day comes in.

So, Australia, we need to talk…

Developed by Nicole Endacott, Jane Tewson, and Dr Kerrie Noonan, Dying to Know Day was established to increase death literacy amongst Australian communities. Sydneysider Jesse Williams discovered and joined the board of the Groundswell Project after the loss of her baby and eventually became the CEO.

After her loss, Jesse was unaware that she could bring her baby home for her loved ones to wish him farewell and she believes that her grieving process would have been eased had she known this was possible. She is now determined to increase awareness about the diverse options grieving families can take.

What is Dying to Know Day?

Dying to Know Day is an annual Australian campaign held on the 8th of August. The founder of the campaign, Jessie Williams, created the movement to help Australians feel more comfortable initiating essential conversations about death with their loved ones.

According to research: “70 per cent of Australians die in a hospital. Even though most of us don’t want, or even need to”[1]. Additionally, 82 per cent of Australians agree that it is important to discuss how they would want to be cared for at the end of their life, but only 28 per cent have had this conversation.

The Groundswell Project’s mission is to shift this percentage to a much higher number so that most Australians can comfortably express how they wish to be taken care of at the end of their lives and help grieving individuals and families heal from their dead loved ones.

Why is Dying to Know Day Important?

When it comes to the last months, weeks, and days, of your life, it is important for your wishes to be documented in the form of a will. Only 55 per cent of Australians have prepared a will. That means that almost half of Australians have not clearly expressed how they would like their assets to be distributed.

It is important to note that if one dies without preparing a will, their assets will be distributed based on a legal formula. This means that the deceased person will no longer have control over who will own or distribute their assets. Therefore, it is important to act and express your wishes in a will to ensure your assets end up with the people of your own choosing.

Dying to Know Day also encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to voice their wishes while they can. There are many cases where people are unable to voice their wishes not only due to illness, but also not being in an environment where they feel comfortable to talk about a difficult subject.

That’s why it is important for Australians to be able to approach the subject with compassion, care, and understanding so that our loved ones can express their wishes, and help grieving friends and families open up about their loss and heal.

Tips for starting difficult conversations

Suggested tips by the Groundswell project for starting conversations with your loved ones:

  • Try reflecting on a memorial service that you have attended or a funeral scene you’ve seen on TV and use this reflection to start a conversation, for example: “I really like those floral arrangements or song in that scene, I’d want something like that at my funeral”.
  • Try reflecting on the ways how you were helped when you were grieving to help others heal from grief and loss.
  • You can also use statistics to spark a conversation and then express your wishes.

Being prepared by preplanning your wishes

Pre-planning and pre-paid funerals enable individuals and families to express their wishes before it’s too late and will allow families to consider that range of service options offered to them such as being able to personalise their funeral in a way that is meaningful to them. People are also able to prepare any necessary financial costs to fulfil their wishes. This can also prevent financial burden during the grieving process.


[1] The Groundswell Project, 2020

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The YourLoss team is dedicated to sourcing and providing Australians with free and easy access to relevant and helping information and resources to assist them in all areas of death and bereavement.

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