Inviting the elephant to dinner.
I invited 7 friends to come for dinner to talk about death. People were so engaged and moved by the deep conversation, learning and sharing that the dinner/conversation went on for 5 hours and the guests asked if we could meet again to continue the dialogue.
One guest, (after reading one of the homework assignments, prior to attending the dinner, of the Top Five Regrets of the Dying), was so inspired NOT to have the 1st regret at his time of death (I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me) he decided to listen to his heart and follow his dream of make a big change in his life to start a restaurant. He began looking for a restaurant site a few days later. I asked the guests to follow-up with any thoughts or reflections when they returned home. Over the next week, I received several responses. One guest wrote, “When I was little, I saw a movie where a family sat around the dinner table and discussed important things. I always wanted that. Our dinner felt like that.”
Another said; “Thank-you for the meaningful conversation last night. I appreciated it so much, for both the emotional and pragmatic aspect of the topic, and for the chance to share thoughts and stories with you.” Another shared, “Kudos to you for having the courage to gather a small group of people to talk about death. Such an important subject and so rarely discussed.” Another shared that “what meant so much to me was to actually have the opportunity to speak openly with others about the elephant that’s always in the room — death. It was a huge relief and I am grateful for it. I enjoyed the way we began by sharing about our ancestors, and I appreciated the good practical information, forms, etc. from you, because its hard to get information about something that people won’t even talk about.”
I have committed to host another dinner and death with these friends to continue our conversation. I was so inspired by how easy this was to do (with the death over dinner web ideas and support), and how beneficial it has been to those who attended, that I plan to offer several more in the future to other groups of friends and to my sangha (meditation group). As a hospice nurse, this project is dear to my heart. Thank-you, for the web support which offered so many options for inspiring conversation.