“Death” is often the scariest word in any culture. It represents the end of the only thing we know from birth which is “life”.
Such negative connotation often prevents people to talk about death openly especially here in Thailand where culture and tradition believes root deep in fears associated with death.Though death is inevitable, good death is not…To make sure one’s end of life journey is good we must first learn to be more open to talk about it in the first place. This is the primary reason behind “Happy Deathday”, a two days exhibition held in Bangkok over last weekend aiming to encourage the public to talk more openly about death and educate about options at their end of life. Happy Deathday exhibition was separated into three parts.
Part I: Feel
The first part was to bring alive the experiences our body will be associated with after death. Objects that normally would be used in a typical Thai funeral were transformed into interactive installations. Participants were given a chance to face off the fear and to see their feelings toward death. The creators hope was to help us imagine our funeral; an event that definitely would happen in the future.
Part II: Learn
The second part was about healthcare choices one must choose at their end of life. One path was to give all to fight to find the cure. This usually ended in a loosing battle. Modern healthcare technologies and medicines though had advanced tremendously, its best effort could only prolong death. In an effort to fight, we lost sight of a perspective of quality of life. On another path, one could choose to care more on the quality of life at their final days thant to find a healing solution. Service such as Palliative Care which shifted focus from a fight to find a cure to fight for a enjoyable life until the end was still very new to Thailand. However, such service was already essential to better healthcare quality in advance economy like UK and Australia. A notebook called “สมุดเบาใจ” which translated to “Relieved Notebook” was handled out for free. This small notebook was a tool to help communicating one’s wishes and visions toward his or her own end of life cares as well as the plan for his death. It filled with questions on how ones would like to be treated medically, emotionally, and physically when the normal verbal and written communications were prohibited due to health condition.
Part III: Experience
The final part was all about sharing experiences. Experts in all related fields were asked to give talks, or lead discussions or conduct workshops to help clarifying question and sharing stories about their lives as well as things they learnt about deaths. All of these happened simultaneously and attendees were free to participate and leave any group at any time.
Other than the tremendous knowledges of life and death I learnt and had attempted to share above , it made me very happy to see such sense of true companionship. A sight of mother & son or husband & wife or a group of old friends coming together to learn about such hard of swallow subject as death was very special and rare. I felt privileged to witness such sights.I also truly admired all the staffs that came together to make such wonderful event as Happy Deathday possible. Even though majority of staffs were volunteers, they worked extremely hard and gave 200% of their energy to make sure everything went smoothly. Words could not describe fully of the positive energy this group of staffs had. It was such a pleasure to work among them. Thank you #Happydeathday