America celebrates ‘Before I Die I would like to……’ festival

"If you have thought about it when you're not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better."

Graveyard, Image credits
  • This festival was held in mid-April.
  • People talk about what they would like do before death in this festival.
  • Various art and wall paintings related to death are also displayed.

Before I Die Festival is a festival celebrated in the U.S. Held in mid-April, the main purpose of this festival is to get people thinking ahead about topics they want to achieve in their remaining days. i.e. regarding organ donations, funeral arrangements, wills, good and bad deeds etc.

Lucia Wocial, the festival’s organizer and a nurse ethicist at the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics in Indianapolis said: “This is an opportunity to begin to change the culture, to make it possible for people to think about and talk about death so it’s not a mystery”.

A 62 years old Tom Davis has been lately thinking a lot about his life and death. He had a heart attack. Initially, he was planning to jolt but after the attack, he wrote “I want to see my grandkids grow up.”

Several books, films, and death related arts are displayed in this festival. At Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library once 61 pairs of boots were displayed which represented the early death of Indiana soldiers.

There are various other attractions of this unique festival such as

  • Death wall paintings
  • Death Cafes
  • Death discussions among people in the whole city
Art gallery during the festival, Image source :
Art gallery during the festival, Image source :

The festival organiser further told that “Death has changed, Years ago people just died. Now death, in many cases, is an orchestrated event.” This statement can be well supported by the fact now medicines have brought new innovative ways to extend the life expectancy of an individual.

Moreover, workshops on how to write an advance directive are also organised in this festival. Special emphasis was being laid on advance care planning. These documents tell doctors that If someone falls ill and can’t communicate his/her wishes then family members are enlisted in the document will take decisions on his/her behalf. Wocial thinks that “If you have thought about it when you’re not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better.

Jason Eberl, a medical ethicist from Marian University said at the festival that “advance directives can address these financial issues, too. People themselves, in their advance directive, will say, ‘Look, I don’t want to drain my kid’s college savings or my wife’s retirement account, to go through one round of chemo when there’s only a 15 percent chance of remission. I’m not going to do that to them.’ ”

Coming to the festival tours to cremation facilities are also provided. Biodegradable urns are made available to dispose of human ashes. There are many things one thinks of before dying. This festival indeed makes it harder for people to think of a particular one.

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Prepared by Pritam, an engineering student in Kolkata, India and an intern at Newsgram. Twitter handle : Pritam_gogreen