Erica Buist | L’Orfeó Olotí | February 20, 2019

My talk began with an exploration of how we learn (or don’t learn) about death in schools, how children’s stories teach that death is something that can be avoided if you’re smart enough, and the science behind how death reminders encourage people to be more racist, misogynist, and dependent on material goods. I weaved in my own story of how utterly ill-equipped I was to deal with the sudden death of my father-in-law, and described the seven death festivals I am visiting to research the different ways of dealing with death anxiety.

One woman asked me if sending her dead friend a text message is part of the healing process, “or am I being weird?” For me this highlighted my point, how little framework we have in the west when it comes to death and grieving. I told her it certainly is, that there are two lessons to be learned from the death festivals: that death is normal, and that grieving is a process personal to you.