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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

What Is the Death Positive Movement?


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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

Living on earth is full of ups and downs and sometimes people get frustrated enough to want to take their lives. But if we had an option, death would be the last thing on their minds as everyone wishes they could live forever.


Considering the painful finality and the gloom with which almost all of us talk about death, it is not surprising that more than half of the world’s population are afraid, or extremely scared of losing any of their loved ones to death.

The cultural mindset that we have is that death is something very terrible and must be avoided even though it is the unavoidable end for every man.

However, in recent years things are fast changing as people from all walks of life are taking the boat step publicly push back against the painful idea of death.

This new public push is known as the death positive movement and the goal of it is not to make death obsolete, it is just the way of thinking that simply argues that cultural censorship for the concept of death is not doing us any favors.

As a matter of fact, the fear we have all developed for deaf and how much we try to avoid it is greatly cutting into the valuable time we have left on the planet.

What does the death positive movement look like exactly?

Death Positive Movement

The dead positive movement has to be one of the weirdest movement on the planet. This movement involves the rebranding of death and that includes end-of-life Doulas, different death cafe which involves casual get-togethers where people get to discuss about dying, And even funeral homes that allow people dress their loved ones body before they get cremated or just have them being present for it.

There’s even an app called WeCroak that was created to automatically deliver 5 death relevant quotes to the users’ phones on a daily basis. One path we also cannot forget is a screen reminder that gently tells you not to forget you’re going to die.

You may want to think that because it is called to get positive movement it would be a beautiful yellow smiley face that becomes a substitute for grief, but that’s not the case.


What the death positive movement is – is simply a way of gravitating towards natural acceptance of death and finally embracing the values that make us conscious and aware of our day to day living.

Death as a positive mindset

Even though this may be one of the most difficult things to imagine with our 24hrs news channels constantly telling us about death and terrible happenings all around the world it has almost become normal for people to expect death.

Most people would rather live as long as possible to see their children grandchildren and great-grandchildren before finally dying, but these days early death has become more commonplace.

An average american back in 1880 was expected only to live long enough to see their 39th birthday, but medicine has greatly advanced and has made death become more remote. The positive death mindset is simply an initiative designed to help reshape your understanding of death.

A study showed that about 80% of americans would rather they took their last breath in their homes, but only 20% of them gets to die peacefully at home. About 60% of people die in hospitals while another 20% spend their final days living in a nursing home.

Every doctor is trained to see the death of any of their patients as a failure, and for this reason, they do everything possible to prolong life. Has been discovered that a lot of people use up their entire life savings in the last six months of their life trying to get medical help that turns out to be futile.

When the death positive movement started about four years ago, most of the attendees were professionals such as cancer doctors chaplains or social workers. But today, almost every regular person who has heard of the movement and is interested becomes a participant.

The founder of the art of dying institute Mr white said that the death positive move is simply considered as a reflection of the american culture beginning to grow openness and candidly addressing death and dying.

According to him, the common thread is that most of the participants are willing to engage with the questions that surround death and dying. They want to ask questions like how do we best prepare?

How can we make the experience of death less frightening to others and ourselves? What are the most effective and compassionate ways we can work with dying and with our families? What should we expect if consciousness continues after we die?


The death of someone else often cracks us open and exposes aspects of ourselves that we usually do not want to feel, see, or acknowledge. The more we deny the existence of death the easier it is for us to keep those aspects of our lives neatly tucked away.

Death as a community builder

In 2010 a former palliative care nurse Katie Williams went for a meeting for lifelong learners in rotorua New Zealand. During the meeting, the leader asked if any of the attendees had a new idea for clubs, and Katie suggested that she could build her own coffin.

At the time it was a bizarre idea, and she had no planning or even skill background. Yet the idea of a coffin club generated massive interest.

Katie Williams called up friends between the ages of 70 and 90 with design or carpentry skills that she thought would be useful for her coffin club. Employing the help of a local funeral director Katie and her team began to decorate and build coffins in a garage.

According to Katie most of our friends found the creativity exciting and the idea very appealing it was also an incredibly social time that helped them develop a valuable friendship.

That was nine years ago, and right now they have moved to a bigger facility where their activities continue. Williams’s friends, as well as their children and grandchildren now attend their weekly wednesday afternoon meetings.

Williams is of the idea that it is essential that the younger family members are allowed to come to the meeting to help them normalise the fact that people will definitely die.

Younger adults have joined the club to help make coffins for their parents or grandparents with terminal illness. Friends and families of people experiencing death have also registered to help build coffins.

Williams added that they had experienced lots of laughter tears sadness and love and at the end, it has been very therapeutic for members of all ages.

In new Zealand, there are now multiple coffin clubs. And other parts of the world including the united states are beginning to have coffin clubs spring up every day.


The difference between Williams’ coughing club and a lot of these new ones is that it has become more about the company than the final product for a lot of the new clubs.

Coffin clubs give people an opportunity to talk about their concerns, get the advice they need, and tell stories as well as make friends.

Death as a life changer

Seeing people die or understanding that death can come at any minute has helped a lot of people to change their lives. It is easier for people to continue living like they would remain on the planet forever if they knew there was a way to avoid dying.

But coming to understand that death is a necessary end and everything can change in a split-second would help people live a more examined life and be more compassionate towards others and the planet.

The death positive movement helps you to see life as worth nothing if you do not have a positive impact on the people around you. Every morning when we wake up, it is another 24 hours exhausted and the beginning of a new one which makes it all the scarier because we draw closer to our graves.

This does not have to be understood as a scary phenomenon because apart from people who died violently 99% of deaths that people have experienced are usually calm and peaceful. Tries to help people have an open mind when it comes to death and begin to see it as a beautiful thing instead of the end of life itself.

I am one of the millions of people who would still be scared of the concept of death regardless of how beautiful anyone tries to paint it but I still think the dead positive movement is a good one and whoever would find it helpful should consider joining in.

Did you find this article helpful? Please do not hesitate to leave a comment below if you have opinions or suggestions that you feel will be helpful to us and other readers. We will also appreciate it if you shared this article on social media so that others can learn too.

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