Dying to Know at SMCT

24 August 2023

In August, SMCT partnered with Grief Australia to host a ‘Death Café’ style event in honour of Dying to Know Day. This pilot event was trialed with a small but diverse range of team members from across both organisations and presented a unique opportunity for us to engage in insightful and valuable conversations in a safe environment.

We were delighted and thankful to have Team Leader and Specialist Grief Practitioner Janice Butera, CEO Christopher Hall and grief practitioners from Grief Australia to help run the event and guide us through these conversations.

What is Dying to Know Day?

Dying to Know Day is an annual campaign that empowers people to become strong self-advocates for their own end-of-life planning. Started by the Groundswell project, this day and the month of August represent an opportunity to learn more about end-of-life conversations – a difficult and awkward topic for many to broach.

Almost half of the Victorian population (46%) never, or very rarely, talk about death and dying to their friends and family, according to Palliative Care Victoria.

Whether they want to avoid thinking about it or just don’t know how to begin, avoiding these conversations can lead to anxiety regarding our end-of-life planning, as well as the added burden of undue stress on your loved ones if your wishes haven’t been made clear before you die.

Takeaways from a morning of conversations

For the past five years, SMCT has facilitated gentle discussion around grief and memorialisation through its community care and wellbeing program, supported by Grief Australia. Insights from community and colleagues from across the organisation highlight one thing – knowing that it’s okay to talk, and being in a safe space to do so, can make a world of difference.

This inaugural event was a pilot for our teams to explore how to effectively facilitate this style of conversation. Thankfully it was very positively received, and our teams were kind enough to share their thoughts and feedback after the event.

  • For someone who has worked in a cemetery for seven years this November, I had not once stopped and thought about the value one can take away from a simple conversation about death. I think on a personal level, now that I have spoken about it, I know what I truly want when I pass.’
  • I think for people that are working around grief, death and dying, it is crucially important to have the opportunity in a relaxed and casual way to have deeply meaningful conversations.’
  • ‘It felt good to participate in these unique and insightful conversations, and it brought about a lot of positive insights about not only death, but life.’
  • The event felt ‘safe’, and this was evidenced by the depth of the conversations held. I always love the way people bring both humour and deep reflections to these conversations.’


If you want to learn more about how to have end-of-life conversations, you can visit dyingtoknowday.com. For more information on Death Cafes, go to deathcafe.com. To discover more about Grief Australia, or to access resources for dealing with grief, visit grief.org.au.

For more information on SMCT’s Community Care and Wellbeing program, you can visit the webpage, email care@smct.org.au or call (03) 8772 6111.

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