The Death Letter Project
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The Death Letter Project


What is death?

What happens when we die?


Fifty Australians were invited to write a letter responding to these two questions...

So beautiful - I feel I’m being given the secrets of life through these letters
— - R. Hayes



Tina FiveAsh

Creator / Photographer


The Death Letter Project began as a PhD research project in late 2014. My initial goal was to invite fifty Australians to handwrite a letter, responding to: what is death; and what happens when we die?

The letters, designed for public display alongside photographic portraits of each contributor, were intended to inspire fresh thought, contemplation, and conversation about death - undoubtedly the most mystifying, feared, and significantly undiscussed human experience in modern western society.

Since the commencement of this project, as letters gradually began to arrive by mailbox or personal delivery, I would relish the seemingly sacred ritual of reading them: finding a quiet space in which to sit; the sacrosanct moment of unfolding them - followed by the intimate act of reading them - in many cases baring witness to the innermost beliefs, observances, grief, loss and loves of another. As I have discovered with every letter received, I have an insatiable desire and curiosity to learn more about death from the perspective of others - including a select few who have been resuscitated after cardiac arrest and have written about their "death" experiences.

The other dimension to the project - the photographic portraits - were generally taken within weeks of receiving the contributor's letter, and in settings familiar to them. As the photographer, this experience in itself was an intimate act: being invited into the private world of an acquaintance or stranger and directing them (however minimally) in order to best utilize the natural light and create the most engaging portraits.

To conclude, it is my hope that this project continues to expand beyond my initial goal of 50 letters/portraits, and contributes to the re-emergence of death literacy in western culture: normalizing conversations around death, and with any luck, lessening some of the fear and taboo surrounding it. 

- Tina FiveAsh



For further information about Tina FiveAsh please visit:


This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship

These are the most wonderful photos and stories
— Sierra Malevich (via Instagram)




I feel incredibly moved by the concept of this project...
— S. Jarvis
Your beautiful ‘death letter’ was shared on a thread of a dear, recently departed friend - very touching
— Anonymous
Perfect. Thank you for sharing your beautifully written letter. It really spoke to my spirit
— Anonymous
Love the death letter project Tina.. great worthwhile work, thanks.. sharing a variety of perspectives on the magnitude of death is thought provoking on the stuff of life..
— S. Hall
An incredible and moving project xx
— D. Horne
Thank you for creating this project. I really look forward to reading each letter and seeing the photographs you post. Looks like you’re really cultivating a sense of comfort and OK-ness for people to talk about death whether it’s their own or others.
— M. Deer