Death and Dying

Apparently the topic of death and dying is starting to become less taboo in our society.  I have just come across two articles that speak on this subject.  Now I do  not want to insinuate that we have turned a chapter on this topic.  We certainly continue to be a society that would rather avoid anything that reminds us of death than recognize that it is part of life.  As Walter Mosley penned in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey: ““We born dyin’…But you ask a man an’ he talk like he gonna live forevah.”

However, since those days in 2009, when ugly looking American Citizens held up signs like”Obama has created death panels” or “kill grandma” in response to a provision that had been placed in the Health Care Reform Act to enable doctors to receive compensation for end of life counseling [and because of all that nastiness, the provision was removed], we as a nation seem to have sobered up on the topic of death.

Recently, a new movement has occurred: death cafes.  According to Stacey Burling, Inquirer Staff Writer,

Death cafes are based on the ideas of Bernard Crettoz, a Swiss sociologist. They had made it to England by 2011 and were soon on their way to the United States, according to deathcafe.com, the mother organization of the “social franchise.” It says 200 death cafes have been held in nine countries.

I find it interesting that death is such a taboo subject.  It is almost as though people believe that they might bring it on if they talk about it.  But the fact is that we are all headed to the grave at some point or another in our lives and we should accept that fact.  As we do, we will become better prepared to deal with the topic.  As it is, we still wish to avoid it and so these baby steps that are starting to appear in our country are a very positive sign and not morbid in the least.  Further in Burling’s article, she quotes:

Raphael is a rabbinic pastor with Jewish Renewal, an emerging denomination. He’s also a therapist and death awareness counselor. He founded the DA’AT Institute for death awareness, advocacy, and training.

He thinks this is a great time to talk about death. Baby boomers are aging and many are losing their parents. Hospice participation is increasing. People are interested in near-death experiences and Eastern religions.

“I think we’re living through this profound revolution in terms of our cultural attitudes toward death,” he said.

He believes death is still more of a “great intimacy” than sex, and a topic that feels taboo to too many. That means many don’t get the support they need when someone they love dies. On the first day, friends will greet them with a serious, long face, he said. On day two, they’ll ask, “How you doing?” By the third day, friends have moved on and people are left to “live with their grief in this kind of invisible way.”

There are even “death dinner” events that also focus on the topic of death and dying.  Dinner, always being a place for good social gathering, seems a great way to bring up the taboo topic.  From a blog by mother nature network

The website Death Over Dinner offers a way to facilitate the process. It gently leads the organizer through a series of questions that can help make the planning of such a get-together a little more straightforward. Asking about who you’d want to attend, what your intention is (to make specific plans, to get a real conversation going about death and dying, or to prepare for another’s death), and even providing resources to watch, listen and read, the site helps you navigate what can be complex, emotional waters.

So yes, if not now, when?  Let’s talk death and dying!

copyright Yvonne Behrens 2014

 

 

 

 

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