'Before I Die' wall shows heartwarming aspirations

Must See 26/07/2018

A 'Before I Die Wall' has popped up on Bond St in central Wellington, inviting passersby to share their hopes and dreams for their lives on the wall.

Among the dozens of notes, people have written that before they die they'd like to hike the himalayas, write a book, marry a Tongan,learn to love themselves, live by their own rules, and buy $200-worth of chicken nuggets.

The container was installed by the Skylight Trust as part of Loss and Grief week, and Skylight's Stephanie Garvey said the idea is to start conversations about those topics.

They chose Bond St because it's in the heart of Wellington.

"It's already a shared space and seemed appropriate," Ms Garvey said.

The first Before I Die Wall was created by a woman in New Orleans who had lost a friend to cancer.

She started questioning life after the loss of her friend, and questioning the meaning of it all," Ms Garvey said.

"She found an abandoned building and it started from there. She was amazed at the amount of engagement from people.

"Through death she found inspiration in the conversations about life."

the wall

What began as an experiment in making a public space into a shared space has become a global art project, with more than 400 Before I Die Walls in 60 countries and 25 languages.

"People are grieving year round, not just in Loss and Grief Week," Ms Garvey explained.

"It's important to remember to chase your dreams, hug your family, let your friends and family know you love them and make peace with yourself."

Messages are written in chalk, and the wall is wiped clean every few days.


One of the first messages was written by a young girl, with her family, who wrote that she wanted to accept her friend's death.

Another teenage girl wrote that she wanted to live life by her own rules.

"Skylight staff are there to have conversations with people," Ms Garvey said.

Ms Garvey said the Skylight Trust's main business is resilience-building. They offer counselling, write resources, run a resilience school programme for Year 9 students, and a program called Waves for people bereaved by suicide.

The Trust is funded by government contracts, philanthropic trusts, its own fundraising and an online shop.

The Before I Die Wall will be in Bond St until August 3.