Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death
We talk about all sorts of things — our career aspirations, our frustrations with friends, what Caribbean island we’re claiming for our next vacation. Yet amid all of our forthrightness, the one thing we don’t talk about is the most important thing in life: death.
We will all lose people we love, and our families are going to eventually lose us. If we don’t discuss what we want our final days to look like — where we want to be, who’s around us — we’re guaranteeing that our own wishes go unhonored. If we delay these conversations until the darkest, most desperate times in doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, or funeral homes, we have done ourselves and our families a great disservice.
It may seem paradoxical, but talking about death can give us an immediate and renewed vitality. In fact, in 2013, two academic researchers found that talking about death actually makes us funnier. And just because we don’t necessarily have the language to talk about death doesn’t mean the curiosity about it isn’t there: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End spent more than a year on the New York Times bestsellers list, and Tuesdays with Morrie has sold more copies than any other biography in print. We are magnetically drawn to this topic, not because we are morbid, but simply because we are curious human beings.
To help bring the subject of death out from the shadows, Death Over Dinner, the non-profit organization I founded in 2013 with Angel Grant, has partnered with Thrive Global and Tonic, VICE’s new channel dedicated to health and wellness, to jointly launch a global conversation about death. Because talking about death is also talking about life.
In 2017, we’ll convene dinners around the world in which strangers, friends, family and colleagues share a meal and engage in an open and empowering conversation about the end of life. Since Death Over Dinner launched, more than 100,000 dinners have been held in 30 countries. Families and friends have laughed, shed a few tears and had one of the more profound and life-affirming conversations available to us. We hope you’ll join us in this important conversation.