Artist, maker and designer Dom Foffani was 24 years old when he and his brother walked into the family kitchen to find their father dead on the floor.
As his family sat around the table in the hours of grief and planning that followed, Foffani’s mother and brothers realized they had no idea of their father’s wishes for his death: did he want to be buried or cremated? What type of funeral did he want? Had he made a will?
They eventually decided against a “quiet and solemn and shy and sad” ceremony. “We wanted something that was fun and silly and stupid because that was him,” Foffani says.
“We found out that our dad wanted to be buried, but we decided he would be cremated, and we only found that when his will came to the surface, which none of us had read.”
Foffani, from Sydney, resolved to not die the same way, and the now-29-year-old began preparing for his own death – not as morbid as it might sound. He started talking with his family about his funeral, organ donation and more. He wrote it all down and put it in his backpack before he went overseas.
A ‘good death’ is when you have considered end-of-life planning.
“The idea of what happens when something goes wrong overseas, and no one knows who I am or what my wishes are or who to contact… That was quite a practical decision I made, to write out what my wishes are,” he says.
After years of a pandemic-induced focus on death, and voluntary assisted dying now legal in all states (it is not legal in the ACT or Northern Territory), Australians are being urged to talk about plans for the inevitable.
Having the first conversation about death can be the difference between leaving your family and friends drowning in paperwork and having real space to grieve, says Cherelle Martin, a campaigner for the August 8 Dying to Know Day, a day encouraging Australians to become “death literate” ”.