How Does “You’re Going to Die” Facilitate Talking About Death?

An interview with Ned Buskirk, Part Two

Today SevenPonds concludes its interview with Ned Buskirk of the program You’re Going to Die, also known as YG2D. Ned is an entrepreneur, educator and producer who lives and works in San Francisco, California. 

Debra: Do you find that terminally ill people attend your programs?

Ned Buskirk: Yes, we’ve had several dying people participate in You’re Going to Die. Some of the people who have been up on the stage have died as a result of their illness.

I’m also a hospice volunteer. I give the clients I work with a chance to talk about dying and the chance to do a life review, but not everyone is open to this. If someone isn’t, we watch television, find another activity or talk about other things.

Debra: Do you hold YG2D groups for children?

Ned: So far we haven’t, though it’s an idea I’ve considered. I think we tend to shelter our children too much when it comes to death. When my mother-in-law died, for instance, my 10-year-old nephew attended her funeral. He absolutely wailed. It seemed to be an important part of his grief process. Children, I’ve noticed, tend to be more expressive of their feelings and this may help them heal faster than adults who tend to suppress their emotions.

rant0 from YG2D on Vimeo.

Debra: What does your family think of your work? Are they supportive?

Ned: My wife is more supportive than anyone. My kids are really too young to get what I’m up to. My sisters and other family members from all branches of the family tree are fully supportive, even though some of them may not completely understand You’re Going to Die

My father doesn’t understand my work in death and dying at all. When I bring it up, he always responds with, “Life is for the living.” And when I mention my work in hospice, he’s totally confused as to why I do it.

However, I can totally get when someone has resistance to my work, and I can leave it at that. I’m not here to force people to deal with death. I’m here to talk with people who do want to face that reality and see how it may inform a fuller, better and bigger life.

Debra: How do you fund YG2D?

Ned: Primarily through Etsy. We sell a lot of small prints. One, for instance, features a bird with the quotation, “You’re going to die. I am too. I’m also going to fly. And you?” Another shows a picture of Einstein with the quotation, “You’re going to die, but your energy will exist forever.” Most of the prints sell for $22.50.

Karlyn DeSteno 5 from Danny Baldonado on Vimeo.

Debra: I understand You’re Going to Die has a special event coming up.  Can you tell me about it?

Ned: Well, our next program is on Friday, August 11 at The Great American Music Hall. It is a curated program as opposed to an open mic. It is called, “You’re Going to Die Presents: You’re Alive, A Mortal Celebration.”

The program features two bands – Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony and Midtown Social. We will also have speakers, and a large party as well as some rituals having to do with death in our culture. We will also be announcing our new not-for-profit status. Your readers can find out more about our event and how to get tickets on our website.

Debra: Any final thoughts?

Ned: I feel like I’ve found what I care about. This is the life I want but also the connection I’ve found to others. Finding your life’s work is like peeling back the layers of an onion until we find what’s closest to our hearts. I wish everyone would do it.

Debra: Ned, thank you so much for talking with me today. I wish you the best of luck with your program.

Ned: Thank you, Debra. I enjoyed talking to you.

Did you miss the first part of Ned’s interview? If so, catch up here.

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