How death came to dinner

On a beautiful June morning in 2012 I boarded a train traveling from Portland to Seattle, and quickly made my way to the dining car. Within a few minutes I found myself in a lively conversation with two strangers, both doctors, and both very concerned about the state of our health care system. What I learned during that conversation was shocking, and the statistic that broke my heart was this: Read More

Nearly 75% of Americans want to die at home, yet only 25% of them do.

I asked the doctors: Do you think that how we end our lives is the most important and costly conversation America is not having?

They said: Absolutely.

And then I asked them this: If I helped create a national campaign called “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death,” did they think I would find support from doctors, patients, essentially everyone?

They said: Absolutely. You must do this!

That morning this project was born and within two months I was teaching a course with Scott Macklin at the University of Washington as part of the Masters in Communication Leadership program. Ten masters students were deep in the trenches with us, building the foundation of this website. One month later we had signed up over 30 of the countries healthcare and wellness leaders as Advisors and TEDMED had asked us to take the main stage at their prestigious conference.

It was at that moment that it became extremely clear – this is a conversation that the entire country needs to be having, and we strongly believe it is a conversation that people are ready to have.

You might ask: Why would I have this conversation over dinner?

The dinner table is the most forgiving place for difficult conversation. The ritual of breaking bread creates warmth and connection, and puts us in touch with our humanity. It offers an environment that is more suitable than the usual places we discuss end of life.

So we raise a generous glass to you and your loved ones and humbly submit version 1.0 of deathoverdinner.org. It is our hope that it adds to the remarkable work currently underway and helps change the conversation about how we prepare for and spend our final days.

Michael Hebb

Michael Hebb - Founder
August 12th, 2013. Seattle, WA