The Action Mill rolled out this Death and Design website on January 3, 2013. Over this past year, we’ve highlighted some 40 projects – close to home and around the world - that work to unhide death in our daily lives. Learning to talk easily throughout the lifespan about the apparatus of death – advance directives, wills, funeral plans – is critical. But as Action Mill partner Jethro Heiko has observed “If the challenge is conversation and people aren't having it, don't give them a document. Give them a conversation.” And that is exactly what the Action Mill’s My Gift of Grace is designed to do.
In the same experiential vein is Stephen Levine’s classic book A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last Levine invites readers to undertake their own experiment over 12 months to practice dying by reflecting on the fear of dying, undertaking a life review, keeping a journal, contemplating dying through a guided meditation, and even disposing of the corpse. Originally published in 1997, the book has inspired people to form Year-to-Live groups where these questions and themes are explored together. In the appendix, Levine suggests how such groups might tackle the book’s exercises on a month-to-month basis, with the admonition to avoid linear thinking. No matter the approach taken, Levine leaves us with an energizing conclusion:
“Ironically, after I have spent a year practicing dying the quality most noticeably enhanced is a new joy in life.”