Death literacy is your ability to understand, answer and respond to situations related to all things death. In Australia, the death literacy movement is growing. It’s taking up much needed space in the halls of universities and grassroots communities all around the country.

We want to die better and on our terms.

This commitment to ensuring that we reduce the level of grief of the people we love together with receiving the level of care, consideration and compassion we need as we die is driving this change.

By choosing to die well and experience a good death, we are making a commitment to stop hiding death away in the shadows. We want to understand this final stage of life and what it means for us as individuals and as family, group and community members.

The benefits of increased death literacy on a community level include:

  • Having frank and open discussions about what a good death looks like to us on a medical, social, philosophical and emotional level
  • Ensuring we reduce the trauma created in our loved ones by reducing their exposure to complex and difficult decision-making as we die
  • Allowing for end-of-life to become as tailored in the support on offer and reflective of the individual’s choices as possible
  • Building networks and the ability to support people who are without or removed from traditional support networks such as family
  • Redefining the end-of-life experience to create a better, more individualised version of end-of-life care through creating the conditions for values-based care
  • Providing inclusive care that reflects the individual on a cultural level. This includes enhancing the Indigenous, Person of Colour, LGBTQIA+ and Disability community experience
  • Creating real opportunities to talk about what a person wants and needs their end-of-life experience to be
  • Reducing the amount of unwanted and unnecessary treatments made when a person begins to die

What to increase your death literacy?

There are some great starting places to begin your Australian death literacy journey:

Dr Kerrie Noonan talks about her friend Jude and how Jude died in a short presentation for TedX Sydney.

Check out this great ABC documentary segment on not-for-profit funeral makers, Tender Funerals entitled a Community Undertaking.

Watch this TEDx Hobart talk from independent funeral director Rebecca Lyons entitled Three steps into the heart of home funerals.

Read the blogs on advance care plans and end-of-life by ExSitu, read a bunch of blogs on Good Grief, and Gentle Death Education and Planning’s blog.

Have a listen to Julie Fletcher’s The Death, Dying, Diagnosis and Doulas Podcast.

Explore the Death Café scene and how it is changing the conversation around death.

Learn more about Death Literacy and the Death Literacy Index with this hour-long in-depth presentation with Dr Kerrie Noonan.

Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia with his Better off Dead Podcast.

And check out more helpful resources and blogs as part of the Great Last Impression.