CONVERSATION-STARTER cards were the key to encouraging people to talk at local Dying To Know Day events.
Macquarie Hills' Stuart Carter organised three community information sessions in two days to recognise the GroundSwell Project's annual national campaign.
"I set two question cards on each table to start everyone talking," Mr Carter said.
"And, well, we ran out of time."
Nine people attended the first two sessions at Charlestown community centre The Place on Tuesday, while 11 people turned up to Toronto Uniting Church for the Wednesday session.
As this was his first year co-ordinating an event, Mr Carter said he was pleased with this turnout.
"Quite a few people mentioned they saw our article on the front page of The Star, which was fantastic."
One lady who discovered the information sessions too late traveled to Dungog to take part in a Dying To Know Day event.
Mr Carter has already started planning next year's event, taking into consideration suggestions from this year's participants, such as talking about spirituality and afterlife.
FUNERAL plans, wills, advance health care directives and burial methods.
These are all things Macquarie Hills resident Stuart Carter says we should talk about but, sadly, we don't.
"We're a death-denying society," Mr Carter said.
"Baby boomers want to talk about their wishes, but their children don't want to listen.
"But we don't have to do it the way we've always done it."
With the aim of starting conversations about death, dying and bereavement in innovative and stimulating ways, Mr Carter will host two Dying To Know Day community events with fellow Dying With Dignity NSW volunteer and friend Chris Gavenlock.
The events are part of non-profit organisation The GroundSwell Project's annual national campaign, which is in its second year.
The organisation uses arts and health programs to spur social and cultural change about death.
Dying To Know Day is this Friday, August 8, but events are being held around the nation throughout the week.
Mr Carter and Ms Gavenlock held an information session at Charlestown community centre The Place yesterday.
The pair used a slideshow, puzzles and conversation-starter cards in a cafe-style seating plan to engage participants.
They will hold another session today, Wednesday, August 6, at Toronto Uniting Church.
Mr Carter and Ms Gavenlock both had negative experiences with their parents' deaths and would like to help others plan a better exit from the world.
"We just want to let people know they can be comfortable talking about this taboo topic," Mr Carter said.
"Once you open the door, everyone has an opinion.
"But your loved ones won't know your wishes unless you make them clear."
■ Dying To Know Day information session, today, Wednesday, August 6, at Toronto Uniting Church, 10am to noon. Cost is a $2 donation. Morning tea included. RSVP to Stuart Carter on 4954 7996.