Is it time to talk about death?
Toronto-based Dying Well Collective is spending the next year encouraging people to talk about -- and plan for -- death.
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We’re all gonna die.
Death is certainly the one thing we all have in common, but it’s often taboo to talk about it.
“It’s scary for people, and there’s still a lot of superstition. I’ve had people tell me they can’t write their will because it means they’ll die the next day,” said Glenda Myles, a self-described “death doula” and co-founder of Toronto’s Dying Well Collective.
For the next year, Myles is on a mission to “open up a dialogue” about death in the city. She and her colleagues will be hosting monthly “death cafés” at the Centre for Social Innovation’s Annex location, offering attendees a “safe space” to discuss mortality.
“It’s as much about living well as it is dying well,” Myles said. “When you can face your own mortality, you tend to live a more fulfilling life.”
The Dying Well Collective will also be hosting a public memorial service for Honest Ed’s, during the iconic bargain store’s going away party – dubbed “Toronto for Everyone” – from Feb. 23 to 26.
With “the large cohort” of baby boomers entering their twilight years, Myles said it’s more important than ever to talk about, confront, and ultimately, plan, for death.
Research shows between 70 and 85 per cent of Canadians would prefer to die at home, rather than in a hospital setting. But only about 15 per cent do, Myles said.
“There’s a huge gap there … and in a lot of cases, it’s because families don’t necessarily have the support to allow that to happen,” she said.
As a death doula, Myles helps families and individuals deal with the end of life, including preparing for death and counselling the bereaved. Through her work with the Dying Well Collective, Myles is training others to do the same.
“We’re really looking for a community model to support the medical model,” she said.