Bucket List Festival tackles end of life with good humour

Talking about death is tough, but a Vancouver event is using humour and honesty to help people plan their passing.

The Bucket List Festival, an all-day workshop held at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, was founded by Dr. Pippa Hawley with the department of palliative care at the University of British Columbia as a way to present information to those facing end-of-life issues.

Dr. David Hunt, a consultant in pain medicine and palliative care, says improving the quality of life — before death — is important.

"We're trying to help our society get a much better grip on the fact that mortality is 100 per cent," Hunt said.

"[Dr. Hawley] and others realized that having a Bucket List Festival could provide really good information to people in a light-hearted way so that people could learn about things that could make whatever is happening, and where they are along the trajectory of their illness, much more palatable."

Humour and living wakes

Some of the topics at this year's event include preserving memories, home care, and throwing a living wake.

Hunt said a good friend of his who survived brain cancer decided to have a living wake.

"My God, we had a great party," Hunt said.

"Two hundred people. He was toasted and roasted. He enjoyed everything and heard everything which most people would miss if they wait after they pass."

Hunt will be speaking on how to use humour to improve the quality of life.

"Humour is important to all of us. The average four-year-old laughs 400 times a day. The average adult laughs 15 times a day.

"For good health, you need to laugh at least 50 times a day," he said.

"Humour helps to take the seriousness out of it. It helps reduce anxiety. It helps them open up and talk about things that are troubling them. It's a good catalyst."

The event, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 22, is also being live streamed on YouTube.

Listen to the interview with Dr. David Hunt from CBC's The Early Edition: