Deathoverdinner.org is amazing. Such a wonderful, well presented idea. Plus, it’s utterly synchronous with my own wishes/needs/decisions. See both this September 15th post and my commentary on it:
Katy Butler: “Burning with anger, I told the astonished cardiologist that my mother had rejected surgery when she had a far better chance of surviving it, and I saw no reason to subject her to it now.”
Actually, I should say about deathoverdinner.org, that its resonance with my own perspective/directive on dying is there, up to a point (again, see that commentary). At least death dinner parties encourage people to talk about death, their own death, their own wishes for the dying process. (And not just as a filed-away “living will” that only addresses the inclusion or exclusion of “heroic” medical measures at the very end.)
I found deathoverdinner.org when I came across the piece below. Notice how terrified the author is. How coy and gingerly. The words he uses to dress up/dumb down the subject. Typical of especially Americans, who are so utterly terrified of death that we project death, with great force, onto countless peoples’ all over the globe; indeed, who want think of ourselves as so exceptional that we won’t even die!
See Lewis Lapham’s new essay on this subject. Very learned and literary, of course, but again, at least he’s addressing his own death, in public.
It may be that Lapham’s usual stream of flowery words this time covers up his own fear. Fear is the killer of consciousness. It shuts us down. We turn into zombies. And BTW: notice the “zombie” meme, floating about like a ghost.
I’m one of the privileged who underwent an inadvertent out-of-body experience nearly 50 years ago and so have understood ever since, with every fiber of my being, that death is simply the shedding of the material carapace. No need to fear liberation!
For me, what’s new is that I’m finally truly grounding myself here, on Earth, in the garden . So grateful!
Okay. Back to the scared author’s piece about death dinner parties.
September 24, 2013
Some dining trends, like the cronut, bring joy to the world. Others, not so much. In the latter category is the death dinner, a dinner party where everyone invited gets to talk about dying and what to do when they pass way. Bloomberg tapped into this trend:
Over the past month, hundreds of Americans across the country have organized so-called death dinners, designed to lift the taboo around talking about death in hopes of heading off conflicts over finances and medical care — and avoiding unnecessary suffering at the end of life. It’s a topic that is resonating as baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964, deal with the passing of their parents, even as they come face-to-face with their own mortality.
Hundreds isn’t exactly a giant swath of the population, but Bloomberg insists that this trend is growing in popularity. Diners insist it allows them to take control of their mortality, and gives Baby Boomers, a generation defined by calling its own shots, the power to get their desires and wants across. Cremation or burial? DNR or feeding tube? Dying at home or in the hospital? A death dinner can tackle tough questions like that and make those desires known to the people invited, usually loved ones who will supposedly outlive the dinner host(s).
The site Death Over Dinner, lets people plan their own dinners (you are under no obligation to follow through) and gives them a template, which includes homework like reading articles about death, invite to send to their guests. Here’s what that template looks like:
Hi [Insert Name],
This might be the most unusual dinner invitation I have ever sent, but bear with me, I think we are in for a remarkable experience. I recently stumbled upon the work of a group of healthcare and wellness leaders who are committed to break the taboo regarding conversations about end of life…
Eesh. That in mind and the fact that there may be people who don’t know where to begin, we wanted to share some common-sense tips that can’t hurt:
- Be Straightforward. The invite minces no words. This is a good thing. The last thing you want are people thinking they’re in for a night of Pictionary or Apples and Oranges.
- No Plus-Ones. Opening up an invite to a plus-one could be disastrous. Do you really want to be discussing where you want to spread your ashes in front of the guy that Ruth met on OkCupid? Nope. Ruth’s date doesn’t want that, either.
- The Playlist Matters. Bloomberg’s report mentions that one woman played baroque music during her death dinner. Do what makes you happy. But, please stay away from and rendition of “Moonlight Sonata.” That’s creepy.
- Wine. As liberating as people make death dinners out to be, a bottle or four can’t hurt.
- Be Afraid. It’s okay to be honest and say you’ve never really thought about death—that’s the reason people people are having these dinners.
- Food. Make something delicious. May we suggest lasagna?
Photo by: Andrey Bayda, via Shutterstock