Tag Archives: Death over Dinner

Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death (and Life)

Cowboys in the streets of Deloris Hildalgo, Mexico, on way to a wedding around the corner.
Cowboys in the streets of Deloris Hildalgo, Mexico, on way to a wedding around the corner.

There’s nothing I like better than good conversation at my dining table. Good conversation is rich, and rewarding. Good conversation means you learn something that makes your life better.

But while the grilled swordfish is the best ever, what’s said or not said around the dinner table can’t be predicted.

It’s a rarity. But once is a while, I pray for any talk to be exchanged.

We have relatives who eat an entire meal – a really good one cooked lovingly by me – in silence. They never look up from their plates even as my husband and I struggle to ignite the smallest of small talk.

Herb and I lock eyeballs from the ends of the table to signal, “Your turn.” Sometimes my husband declines his turn which prompts me to glare and mouth, “Don’t you dare.”

We survive. It’s exhausting.

With different people around the table, talk happens easily. Everyone participates.

But honestly chatter about your Budapest vacation ten years ago or your son’s newest job doesn’t make me a better person or help me navigate my life.

Am I the only one keen on deep, insightful conversation? 

Not on your sweet purpose driven life, dear readers.


Gatherings over dinner to talk about death are part of an international movement called “Death Over Dinner.” The goal is to talk about important end-or life questions before it’s too late.

Since the Death Over Dinner project was founded two years ago, more than 70,000 people in over 20 countries have gathered to dine and discuss their views on a “good” death, and the issues that will matter to them in their senior years.

Death Over Dinner was originally designed in the U.S. by Michael Hebb and Angel Grant to encourage people to have conversations about end of life and End of Life Care at the kitchen table rather than in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), when it’s too late.

DOD is an interactive website that encourages conversation to start with family and friends while breaking bread with a range of tools, reading and support materials, as well as tips to get the conversation started.

Am I enthused to host an interactive dinner on the difficult conversation about death?

Not really.

But I am inspired that people are transforming important issues into conversation of deep engagement and insight because we just don’t do a lot of that at dinner parties.

When was the last time you learned something that made your life better?

When was the last time someone’s experience inspired you to make a change?

When’s the last time an individual’s way of thinking caused you to think differently? IMG_4895

 The Funeral Plan You Don’t Have and I Do

Interesting don’t you think? Being invited to a dinner party with a theme to engage us in topics we’d like to avoid or don’t often talk about openly.

Picture guests moving green beans around on their plate while an individual shares she has full instructions for her funeral tucked away in an electronic folder appropriately titled, “When I’m Gone.” 

That would be my folder.

Wouldn’t you like to hear why I might choose Roy Orbison’s In Dreams to be sung at my funeral over The Old Rugged Cross?

Or how I made the list of who gets what and why I keep changing it? (Bet the kids will text me on this.)

Part of me is kidding here. Not about the funeral plan folder. I really do have this.

But no Death Over Dinner will happen at my house.

Instead you might find yourself at my table encouraged to participate in topics slightly less uncomfortable.

amsterdam 329From the Arc of Life

With each passing day in midlife the past grows longer, our futures shorter. We’re all essentially just as interested in learning the meaning of life as say, the latest spoils of the upcoming November election. (Say this is true. Please.)

We could make our lives better if we talked about it. We can learn, discuss and engage with one another.

So what could we talk about?

What are you hoping from life ahead?

What part of your life has been neglected?

What saddens you about being the age you are?

What regrets have a chance to be fixed?

What has almost broken you in your lifetime so far and what did you learn?

What do you believe about your life ahead?

What’s a turning point or future challenge?

How have your children disappointed you and what are you doing about it?

What advice would you give your younger self?

What’s your take on aging?

Many of us have our rich and rewarding conversations with one other person. I love when I take away a nugget to clarify and navigate my own life better.

That’s happened to you. I know it has. I hope it has.

But a group conversation has a much different component and impact.

Imagine hearing from the journeys of six or seven people

who lay down their story lines

to allow you to soak in their experiences and wisdom?

What an incredible evening. I’ll bring dessert.

A candy-colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night. Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper, "Go to sleep, everything is alright." -In Dreams, written and sung by Roy Orbison
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
tiptoes to my room every night.
Just to sprinkle star dust and to whisper, “Go to sleep, everything is alright.”
-In Dreams, written and sung by Roy Orbison
Posted in Self-Management | Tagged | 1 Comment