Talk Death Over Turkey

As you pull your turkey out of the oven and gather friends and family around the table, why not make room for an often-uninvited guest — death. According to “Death over Dinner” founder, Michael Hebb, dinner is the perfect opportunity to discuss a topic that’s been taboo in our culture.

Inspired by his experience with the death of his father when he was still just a teen, and stories he heard from others who had missed important conversations with loved ones, Hebb founded “Death Over Dinner, a global effort to get people talking about death around the dinner table. Tens of thousands of dinners have been held around the world.

As Hebb’s book and video explain, the project was created to normalize the conversation around death. Though 75 percent of Americans want to die at home, only 25 percent do. This inspired Hebb to get people talking about what they wanted before it would be too late.

At his website, you can register for sample questions and get instructions about how to conduct a dinner yourself. You can also get a simple PDF instruction on how it works (for hosts and guests).

As this cute animated video explains, not talking about what you want at the end of your life is like wanting to go to Aruba on vacation only to have your well-meaning family send you to Antarctica because you didn’t tell them what you wanted.

A few things you want to avoid, the video explains:

  • Don’t surprise people
  • Don’t hog the “talking stick”
  • Make simple food
  • Put your phone away
  • Schedule enough time
  • Create the right ambiance

For more information about Death Over Dinner, see these articles from NPR and the Atlantic.

Photo by Christiann Koepke

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