An App to Remind You You’re Going to Die? On Death Positivity

In her essay for, Ara A. Francis contemplates the prescience of Lyn Loflin’s 1978 book The Craft of Dying, which catalogs the then-nascent “Happy Death Movement”:

Lyn’s analysis of death activism read as though it could have been written yesterday, and I wondered how that could be. In light of the happy death movement’s ostensible achievements—the canonization of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s work, for example, or the 1980s institutionalization and expansion of hospice—how is it that today’s death-positive movement resembles so closely its progenitor of 40 years ago and yet feels new to its participants? In the discussion that follows, I outline a few preliminary answers to that question, identifying factors that might help us to understand the movement’s continued resonance and perennial challenges. I consider, too, what we as scholars and activists might take from The Craft of Dying going forward. 

This is an excellent companion piece to my own recent essay, The Changing Face of Death: A Countercultural Perspective, which likewise identifies the mid-1960s/1970s as a key period of thanatological change.

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