Many of us have offered our support when someone is dying. We provide hands-on care, emotional support, and bereavement support. So why don’t we like talking about dying? 

Just over a quarter of us avoid the topic of death and dying. Talking to adults about death is perceived to be easier than talking to children about it. Only 24% of people feel able to talk about death, dying or loss with a child. 

Unfortunately, most of us (43%) have experienced the death of someone close to them under the age of 16. With 53% feeling, they are able to talk to another family member about death. However, a quarter of Australians avoid the topic of death and dying altogether and 26% of people say that they avoid conversations about death because they feel uncomfortable. 

Death, of course, is unavoidable. Some people can and are involved in end of life care. Many people help with emotional support and are able to be physically present when someone is dying. We learn about death from our personal experiences. Very few people have key learning experiences of death in a school or through community activities. 

More than half of us feel changed by our experiences with grief and loss. With over 40% of people believing we are more equipped to help others and feel more confident to face similar challenges. At times of death, loss, and bereavement many of us are still involved in caring and supporting one another in our homes and throughout our community. 

So what do we know? Surprisingly, we tend to know more about navigating the funeral industry than we do for the end of life or aged care. We’re not too bad at finding information though, with 45% of us knowing how to get information about palliative care. But fewer of us know how to get information about carer and bereavement support. 

The GroundSwell Project is working to develop death literacy through engagement and action in communities around death, dying and loss. Dying to Know Day, 8th August is designed to activate conversations and curiosity about death. By encouraging death literacy and providing a space to talk about the end of life plans, we can help people, families, and communities to do death better. 

RESOURCES: Dying to Know Day and Beyond and Taboos