Honouring Death is Part of Life

Every year, Asian families around the world celebrate the arrival of spring by sweeping the tombs of their loved ones. Children will go kite flying afterwards to affirm life. So, spring cleaning isn’t just for your home! Many families participate in sweeping graves, placing flowers, offering food, and burning joss paper to honour their ancestors. This ritual is a beautiful part of the Qingming Festival, which began roughly 2,500 years ago in China. In Japan, families come together to observe a similar festival called Shimi.

The tomb sweeping tradition continues, and within our modern lives as a way to talk about death and the afterlife. What happens when we don’t have an annual festival or tradition to bring us together in celebration of death and life? Death is most likely our least favorite subject to discuss among family and friends. However, death and end-of- life care are truly important conversations that we need to have. Much like spring cleaning, it’s time to toss your fears aside and start the conversations.

How do we let go of this fear? Here, at the library, we offer a safe space to discuss death and dying with our Conversations About Death and Dying Book Club.  We invite participants to bring their curiosity as we discuss and share end-of-life books, media, and resources. You are welcome to participate even if you haven’t read up on death and dying. Watch our Book Clubs page for details on future sessions.

Watch The Great Courses: Death, Dying, and the Afterlife. Season 1, online available from Hoopla, to learn more about cultural traditions and ancient burial practices from theological, philosophical, biological, sociological, psychological, and literary perspectives. Borrow Home Safe: A Memoir of End-of-life or Finding Peace at the End of Life to gain insights from lived experiences of compassionate care and dying with dignity at the end of life. 

Not sure where to start for end-of-life resources? Explore EPL Picks The Other Side of Life, for resources on advance care planning, wills, medically assisted death and funeral planning.  

Interested in more? Browse our curated lists available at EPL:

  • Are you a parent or caregiver and could use some help in talking to your child about death? Browse this list, opens a new window of books to help children process all the emotions of grief and facilitate mourning. Sometimes, reading a book together makes the conversation easier to approach.
  • Select films from EPL Picks Knocking on Heaven’s Door to watch with family and friends and start the conversation about our fear of death and dying.
  • Choose from a wide selection of EPL Picks Dealing with Illness and Death Fiction list for stories that you could relate or reflect upon.
  • Reading about death isn’t as morbid as it sounds, death can be a fascinating topic to discover! Take the informative approach and check out EPL Picks Momento Mori.
  • Plan with free resources available from Compassionate Alberta and discuss your end-of-life care options with family members.

Have questions or would like to discover more? Come chat with our knowledgeable staff.