Let’s have dinner and talk about death
by Rebekah Denn
Ready for some serious dinnertime conversation?
Across the country on Saturday, hundreds of people are expected to engage in “Death Over Dinner” meals to discuss thoughts, experiences, expectations and fears about mortality and the end of life. The organizers’ hope: To transform “this seemingly difficult conversation into one of deep engagement, insight and empowerment.”
The project comes from a familiar name in innovation, “food provocateur” Michael Hebb, known for projects from his One Pot gatherings to a highway hiking dinner, now a teaching fellow at UW’s Master of Communication in Communication Leadership program.
The idea came about, Hebb wrote in a successful crowdsourcing campaign, when he started a conversation with two strangers, both medical doctors, in the dining car of a train.
“I learned that End of Life expense was the number 1 reason for bankruptcy in the U.S. and that over 75% of Americans want to die at home and yet only 25% do – half of us are not getting what we want – what we are entitled to – and paying dearly for it,” he wrote.
“I was shocked – but outrage quickly turned to inspiration – and it occurred to me that How We End Our Lives is the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having.”
Saturday’s Death dinners, which sprung from a graduate class Hebb and the UW’s Scott Macklin taught on end-of-life issues last year, now “includes big names like the health care conference TedMED; spiritual teacher Ram Dass; and Marcus Osborne, the vice president of health and wellness payer relations for Walmart, either participating in or supporting the initiative,” plus a partnership with the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, reported the Huffington Post.