The ways to talk about death and dying are manifold. One recent example was a public comment by Japan’s Finance Minister urging older Japanese citizens “to hurry up and die.” Concerned about escalating medical costs for Japan’s burgeoning senior population, he issued this less than appropriate remark last month.
We recently learned of another way to engage in a discussion around the topic of death: start a “death cafe.” Conceived by a Swiss sociologist, the idea has spread to the U.K., France, and most recently Columbus, Ohio. A death café, we are assured, provides a respectful and confidential setting for persons to share their thoughts about the kind of death they envision for themselves.
While Carolyn and I practically gagged when we first read the term ‘death cafe,’ we feel the concept is worth examining. For too long the topic of death has been among the ‘forbidden fruit’ of polite conversation. The idea of a formal setting in which to discuss death (whether it’s called a death café or something less blunt) brings the subject of death out of the closet.
Think about it:
Why not ask a loved one who may be dying what kind of funeral he or she would like to have?
Why not ask ourselves the same question?
Do we want to die in a hospital or at home or somewhere else?
In sum, wouldn’t we be better off if we could openly discuss the kind of death we envision for ourselves?
I suggest we all try it if only once. Consider discussing with a relative or friend the kind of funeral they or you would like. Share with them how you hope to spend your final days.
It’s time we unearthed the tough conversation around death and what we’d like to happen when our ‘time’ rolls around.