Death positivity is not just a mindset, it’s also a practice. This space is an ongoing chronicle of ways that death positive ideas are emerging in communities all across the world—from volunteer efforts, to live performance, to the reimagining of traditional death spaces.
Death Positivity in Action
After the Rain
After the Rain is a conceptual design from Japanese Artist Aya Kishi, who says it reinterprets the meaning of memorial by “incorporating a series of optical prisms into the centers of tombstones, which as a result, create a spectrum of light on the ground where the grave would be situated. Influenced by rain and the grieving process, the project takes these elements and translates them into a visual intervention helping ease the pain and suffering after losing a loved one.”
Farley Center For Peace, Justice, and Sustainability
The Farley Center has created a multi-use community land space which includes farmland where produce for local food pantries is grown, and offers a wide variety of community programs and events like Supporting Healthy Black Agriculture, which provides families with an opportunity to learn about agriculture from the Black experience. Within this shared space is also a nature preserve that provides the local community with a green burial ground called the Natural Path Sanctuary, where people have the opportunity to work on and enjoy the land in life and protect it in death.
Live After Death
Brooklyn-based comedian Ben Wasserman has been performing his latest show, Live After Death, in what may seem an unlikely venue – a funeral home. The show blends comedy, clowning, and crowd work as Wasserman leads the audience on a hilarious yet moving journey through grief; honoring and celebrating the ones we’ve lost along the way. Live After Loss was inspired by Wasserman’s own experiences with death and loss, and he invites the audience to share their own experiences in a segment he calls “Vulnerable Moments,” where “we can talk about everything, including death and why people die at the hands of a corrupt system.”
Undertaker Isabelle Plumereau, who runs a funeral home in Paris called Le Ciel & La Terre (The Sky and the Earth), has created a bicycle hearse she calls a Corbicyclette, a combination of the French words for bicycle and hearse. The Corbicyclette provides a more sustainable mode of transportation, and “It allows for a slow, silent, quiet procession, to the rhythm of the steps of the people who walk behind and who make the procession,” says Plumereau.
The Black Cemetery Network
Founded to raise awareness about the issue of erasure and silencing of the issues surrounding Black cemeteries throughout the U.S. These important sites contain the stories of people, place, and families that are often missing from larger public narratives. The BCN connects these spaces and the people working to actively protect them through research, advocacy, and collaboration.
Bloomy’s Cafe and Funeral Home
This unique funeral home in Japan offers a modern café space that surrounds visitors in a lush, garden-like setting. The café and funeral home was designed by Eriko Kasahara as a place for the local community to gather as well as offer mourners with a beautiful place to share memories of their loved ones.
Wake LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide
The Louisiana LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide from community deathcare organization Wake, is a comprehensive primer for end-of-life planning geared specifically towards the LGBTQIA+ community in Louisiana. The guide aims to close the gaps in available information on end-of-life care and funeral services for the LGBTQIA+ community, and address the unique needs of the LGBTQIA+ people which can often be overlooked in the healthcare and funeral industries.
Community Death Care Project
Co-created and facilitated by the Vancouver Public Library and Carnegie Community Centre, the Community Death Care Project is a site specific endeavor created to support vulnerable communities connected to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown. Recognizing existing systemic barriers that lead to increased frequency of deaths wherein there is little dignity, agency, and support available the Community Death Care Project project provides access to resources and information sharing around choice, dignity, and autonomy for end-of-life planning.
The Grief Gallery
When Charlene Lam’s mother died suddenly in 2013, she was faced with the task of clearing out her mother’s home, prompting the question “If I was to do an exhibition about my mother, which 100 objects would I choose?” This question became the inspiration for Lam’s The Grief Gallery, which presents exhibitions, installations and events featuring the belongings of loved ones lost.
The Cemetery Birder
Danielle Belleny, a wildlife biologist and birder known as The Cemetery Birder, inspires people in cities to visit cemeteries as a way to destigmatize death and connect with nature, reminding us that cemeteries hold “an enormous amount of ecological diversity.” In talking about conservation burial Belleny says, “I didn’t expect birding to help me destigmatize death and define my final resting plans, but I couldn’t imagine a better way to be remembered. I’d be honored if my resting place sparks the journey of a new birder.” She is also a co-founder of
Black Birders Week, which seeks to counteract the racism Black people often experience while enjoying the outdoors.