Before I Die Festival Ohio happening across Dayton this week



Spooky season takes an interesting turn this week as The Before I Die Festival Ohio seeks to educate and enlighten the community about end-of-life planning Oct. 27-29 across the Dayton area.

Organizers are planning outside-the-box activities hoping to bring a “light touch to what many consider a dark topic.”

“I’m living proof that talking about death won’t kill you,” said Gail Rubin, certified thanatologist and The Doyenne of Death based in Alburquerque. “The Before I Die Festival is a chance to get people to look at mortality issues and talk about it without having to be afraid of talking about it. So often people don’t go to a funeral home or a cemetery unless someone has died. And Before I Die Festivals give you the opportunity to get your questions answered.”

Rubin is a pioneering death educator who uses humor, film clips and outside the box activities to teach about planning for end-of-life. She was one of the first people to hold a Death Café in the United States and the only person to hold a Before I Die Festival five years in a row.

The Before I Die Festival Ohio offers creative activities and events that spur conversation around our inevitable mortality. The goal is to help people think and talk openly about death and dying in an upbeat space and take steps to plan ahead. In addition to Rubin, speakers at the event include downsizing experts, financial and estate planners, funeral directors, hospice and tissue bank representatives.

Festival highlights include:

· A Dia de los Meurtos dinner in Calvary Cemetery on October 27.

· Tours at two cemeteries and Death Café discussions at two funeral homes October 27 and 28.

· “Death, Drafts and Directors,” a conversation with young funeral directors on October 28.

· Showings of the documentaries “Being Mortal” (Oct. 27) and “Living While Dying” (Oct. 29) as well as the animated movie “Coco” (Oct. 28).

· A daylong symposium at the University of Dayton Curran Building on a range of end-of-life topics on Oct. 29.

“People who have a loved one die without planning ahead tell me, ‘I didn’t know how complicated this was going to be’ and ‘I wish I had my loved one here to help me make these decisions,’” said Neil Fogarty with Dodds Memorials, coordinator of the Before I Die Festival Ohio. “We want to let folks know you can make these decisions ahead of time and avoid burdening a loved one who’s lost in the fog of grief.”

Rubin also feels the festival validates the understanding that proper preparation can be an asset.

“We want people to explore their curiosity about the funeral field,” she said. “We also want them to start taking steps to know what they need to know before they go.”

While most events are free, those event that include food have a small charge. See the full schedule of events and register online at

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