For many, discussing death is not their cup of tea. For 71-year-old Stuart Carter, it's exactly that.
Since 2013 the Macquarie Hills resident has been running "Die-alogue Cafe", a quarterly meet-up in Mount Hutton that invites anyone and everyone to come for coffee and sweets, and discuss dying.
"We follow a format," Mr Carter said. "So we welcome any new people. Then we remember those who are significant in our lives, people who are important. And then we always have a music selection from somebody in the group.
"And then we have reviews and reports and so on. We basically just talk about life and living and how we deal with the issues and concerns of society. It's a very life affirming experience, there's jokes and laughter."
An unfortunate incident during a family member's funeral in 2002 is what inspired Mr Carter to become a proponent for "death literacy". Research into Australia's funeral industry made him aware of the need for consumers to advocate for themselves. He also found a growing group of people trying to change the country's attitude towards death.
"I spoke to university researchers, social justice advocates and so on, people from the Groundswell Project. They would say we need to be familiar with issues around death, dying and ageing and start taking care of those issues ourselves."
There are a few things that Mr Carter says everyone should have ready for their passing.
"We all need to have a will. 45 per cent don't have a will and that's not good," he said.
Another important piece of documentation is an advance care directive. The form can be picked up from Hunter New England Health.
"It's what you would like or not like to happen with you when you are in a situation where your life is threatened. So if you were in hospital and you were unconscious or needing life sustaining medical assistance, how much of that do you want?"
He also recommends putting down on paper what you want to happen to your body once you die. And then he suggests appointing an executor for your will, as well as a legal representative and an "enduring guardian" in case of illness.
"That's someone who can speak on behalf of you if you cannot speak for yourself in terms of your health and welfare," he said.
People become more comfortable with the eventuality of death once they have completed these tasks, Mr Carter said.
"One of the reasons people put them off is that they think if you think about those things for too long, you'll bring death on," he said.
"Talking about death helps you live a better life. It's exactly the opposite."
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