What if your loved one(s) died all of a sudden? Are there things you wished you had told them? Would you wonder what kind of funeral they wanted? How to talk about death—it is no longer going to be a taboo topic; all thanks to the death campaign by Singaporean students.
Four students from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University started an online campaign – ‘Dying to Talk’ – to encourage people to talk about death more openly. The campaign was a combined effort by students of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information – Janice Ng Li Ting, Yeo Zhi Yi, Chan Xiao Ying Lynn and Tan Su-Qing Hazel. It aims at making ‘death’ a more discussable topic for people of the age group 45 to 59.
Dying To Talk – The Campaign
Irrespective of the fact that death is inevitable, the subject remains a cultural taboo in our societies. Due to this, older people tend to feel emotionally burdened thinking about the situation post-death. It also poses a problem for their kids as they do not know what their parents wish to do during their last days or whether they have any specific kind of funeral in mind. Such concerns led to this thoughtful movement. The campaign that took off on 1st February is supported by the Ang Chin Moh Foundation and will go on until 1 March 2020. As part of the campaign, a conversation kit was provided to different families to express their inner feelings and thoughts about funerals, dying and death.
The “Dabao Kit” is a step-by-step guide on how to host a “Death Dinner” in the comfort of your own dining room. | Photo: Dying To Talk
Each family’s conversation was then documented as video series with the aim to raise awareness in other Singapore families, as well. This one-month campaign throws light on the topic by including four videos of ‘Death Over Dinner’ and a ‘Dabao Kit’ or conversation kit. A Dabao Kit
is mainly a cardboard box with different cards and conversation starters like, “What would you like to do during your last days?” They also have cards where one can draw their own coffin or write a eulogy for themselves! The kit is an encouragement for families to have their own death conversations over dinner.
The Dabao Conversation Kit includes a variety of items: from an invitation text, conversation cards, resource card and activity templates to get the conversation started. | Photo: Dying To Talk
Reaction from People
All those who participated in the dying to talk campaign had something positive to say after using the conversation kit. Michael Cheuk expressed that talking about his death with his children not only strengthened their bond but also relieved him from worrying about what the kids would do after he was gone.
Coming to Gwen Gomez, we may say that she spoke on behalf of all young daughters out there. She expressed that just an hour of conversation about death with the family made her feel closer to her parents and helped her learn a lot more about them.
How to talk about death: The Gomez Family dinner. | Photo: Dying To Talk
70-year old Madam Low Siew Luan said that her 64-year old husband Yeo Gun Tong appreciated her more often after the one-hour talk and it truly moved her.
Yeo Family Dinner. |Photo: Dying To Talk
Why Talking about Death Matters
Death and funerals are not comfortable topics to discuss over dinner, as most of you would agree. But avoiding such an important affair only leads to regret after losing our loved ones. Sazali Abu Othman talked about how his father’s sudden demise left him devastated and how he wished that he had a more open conversation with his dad when he was alive. Living a peaceful, fulfilled life before dying
is the best way to live, so it’s important to know the wishes of people during their last days.
Having conversations about death doesn’t have to be as daunting as we think. | Photo: iStock
Moreover, having such conversations is the only way to know what’s in each one’s heart and avoid a lifetime of regret. Isn’t it amazing how the students picked up such a delicate topic for making a difference in people’s lives? We hope that more and more Singaporeans understand and benefit from this initiative, with healthy conversations about dying, death, wishes and funerals. After all, death is the ultimate truth and it is the need of the hour to value our time and relationships while we’re still alive!
Lead image credits to Dying To Talk.