These few hours of pure honesty…

My mother, Enee, and I hosted a Death Dinner at the beginning of this year at her studio in St. Petersburg, Florida. As it was during my winter break from college in Massachusetts, most of the guests were my mother’s colleagues or family friends. Still, they were handpicked and chosen for their potential adaptability to this unique assemblage. It turns out that everyone who attended had a breathtaking story to tell that conveyed their strength as survivors and gratitude for deceased loved ones. The struggle, or the “deathing” process, was...

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February 1st, 2018

A near disaster at the table.

I’m a writer in the throes of putting together a book about aging and dying, so it makes sense I’d want to facilitate some real-life conversations. And the idea of a dinner party designed specifically for that purpose sounded like a brilliant idea. To garner my husband’s support all it took was an explanation of how I’d found an organization called Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death and thought it was a killer idea. What can I say—the man appreciates a good pun. I posted the event to Facebook, offered vague promises of unconventional...

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December 11th, 2016

Women Physicians’ support network has dinner

Our organization sponsored a "Death Over Dinner" event for our regional Women Physicians' support network. It was enjoyed by more than two dozen of us, from three counties: sharing, caring, and lots of laughter. As a Palliative Care professional once shared: "It is a neophyte's mistake to think that discussions about the end of life should always be somber." Such discussions can be invigorating, indeed, as we focus on our patients' stories and our professional lives.

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December 11th, 2016

Dinner in Dallas

“Death Over Dinner” as a dinner party theme? Who would have thought that we would have had such an easy and comfortable time? I planned the menu, had an agenda in my mind, reviewed the website ideas for conversation prompts, and I printed out sheets…I was prepared. What I didn’t plan for was the fact that we only needed one prompt to get going. I never needed to look at my notes again and we never lacked for conversation.

Our small group of 4 married couples, one childless and others with children, ranged from...

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May 5th, 2016

Our First Death Dinner

by Catherine Braxton As we staggered the tissue boxes across the long dining table, one of the wait staff approached, “We have a running bet as to what is going on here, can you tell us so we can determine the winner? Some of us think it is going to be a sad book club, the others, a funeral…” Mischievously I replied “Actually, it is a mixture of the two. It is our first death dinner.” The waitress did not look disheartened that she had lost the bet, but rather intrigued, “Now you’ve got my attention” she replied. It was a gathering of 10...

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April 12th, 2016

Mountain Valley Hospice death dinner

By Lisa McCoy We weren't quite sure what to expect because we did this in a community format similar to what had been done in Olean, NY. It was a rousing success!! The feedback was overwhelmingly positive...people appreciated the information we shared, the questions we answered and the forum we gave them to share with others. We will most definitely do it again!

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April 12th, 2016

Talking about our own death means talking about life

By Emilia Gempeler We invited 10 people, for the conversation, but only 7 arrived. The beginning of the meeting, was beautiful and very emotive, when each of us honored someone special who had died. Using the structure suggested was great because it helped us to begin the conversation very easily. Everyone had a great experience and was able to share personal stories about death and dying. At the end all of the participants, were happy to understand that talking about our own death means talking about life, about life until the end.

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April 12th, 2016

Our First Death Dinner

by Catherine Braxton As we staggered the tissue boxes across the long dining table, one of the wait staff approached, “We have a running bet as to what is going on here, can you tell us so we can determine the winner? Some of us think it is going to be a sad book club, the others, a funeral…” Mischievously I replied “Actually, it is a mixture of the two. It is our first death dinner.” The waitress did not look disheartened that she had lost the bet, but rather intrigued, “Now you’ve got my attention” she replied. It was a gathering of 10...

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April 12th, 2016

Invoking the names of loved ones

Our dinner began with learning that half of the 10 participants did not do the homework in advance of the dinner. As we began by invoking the names of loved ones who had died, the mood turned from wariness to feeling the love as we shared memories. Ultimately we ended up having really wonderful conversations and learned that some of our family already had purchased cremation insurance. ' Everyone was glad we had the dinner and came away with things to do to ensure each of our wishes are outlined and shared for our wishes in the event of a...

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November 12th, 2015

Ages 21 to 77 in Tacoma

17 of us gathered for dinner (ages 21 to 77) and conversation about our own wishes regarding death and dying. Lots of great conversation, laughter, surprises and insights. We'll probably gather for "round two" to finish the work we began. Thanks for the tools to get this important conversation started. -- Michelle in Tacoma

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November 12th, 2015

Ursuline College

death over dinner was an amazing experience. the conversation was enlightening and every time I meet with my classmates I learn how much I appreciate them. this experience has enhanced my knowledge and understanding of pateints and loved ones who are at end of life. - Donna Sheahan This was an wonderful opportunity to share professional and personal stories about death and dying. At this meeting we talked about cultural and ethnic differences. We discussed family dynamics that contribute to adaptive/maladaptive perceptions regarding the...

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November 12th, 2015

Thinking about death clarifies your life.

The students enrolled in my Health Communication course at Eckerd College accepted my invitation for a Death over Pizza conversation during our last class of the spring term. It was a wonderful experience. Like Candy Chang noted, "thinking about death clarifies your life," listening to their conversations made me feel an immense amount of gratitude for being a teacher. - Kristina Wenzel

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November 12th, 2015

Hofstra University holds Death Dinner

Hofstra University's Palliative Care and Hospice class, in the Undergraduate Department of Health Professions, held a Death Dinner as a final project on Monday, May 11,2015 from 4-6 PM. Approximately 20 students participated in this event. In a discussion about what we wanted to relay about the experience, it was agreed that insights about life, as well as death were shared. Different perspectives about death were expressed; commonalities and differences were explored. We talked about the possibility of an afterlife; about religion; about...

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November 12th, 2015

Running group faces death at local hang out

My running friends and I have been discussing these issues periodically on our runs. Thank you for helping us organize our thoughts and plans. We had our first Death over Dinner, January 8th, at a local hang out and was a great start for our planning. Thanks again!

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February 24th, 2015

WSU dinner, the ripple effect…

I conducted a Death Over DInner event last fall with 40 medical, nursing, pharmacy, and other health professional students (5 tables of 8). The discussion was robust and we intend to offer this interprofessional activity again every semester (we have a local donor sponsoring the dinner). The "ripple effect" has been tremendously satisfying, with many students sharing how they continued the dialogue with their families, friends, and colleagues. The event was so successful, I would like to replicate it at an upcoming conference of health...

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February 24th, 2015

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...

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February 24th, 2015

DOD in the 303!

When Shanika and I learned about Death Over Dinner parties, we couldn't wait to host our own! At work, we'd always talk about subjects surrounding death, so this was right up our alley. We had a black, white and red theme and requested guests to wear those colors. We knew it would be a memorable night, but as our guests became more and more engaged, we all connected in ways we hadn't imagined. Note to ourselves: GIRLS LOVE TO TALK! In the planning phase, we stressed that people wouldn't talk so openly about death, so we created a document...

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February 24th, 2015

We laughed. We cried. Death over pizza.

My Death Over Dinner experience was more than wonderful. I nervously hosted an event with 10 of my closest girlfriends to talk about death and dying; specifically my death and dying. The ages ranged from 37-43 and most of the group has a limited experience with death. The topic has been lurking in my brain since my Stage 4 cancer diagnosis in May 2011. I was finally ready to talk about this process with my friends. I could think of no better format to discuss this heavy topic than over pizza, wine, and dessert. The results were amazing! <...

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November 4th, 2014

suicide. kept in the dark.

I am the founder of the Dying to Live Healing Heart Center for Grief Support located in Sedona, Arizona. I am also a Thanatologist, had a master degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying and Bereavement) from NYC. Our center’s grand opening was on November 1st, 2014, 2 days ago. But we have already host our first Death over dinner few days before the grand opening on last Thursday, Oct 30th, 2014. I sent out an invitation for limited seating of 13 and I got 11 participates. Not all cover the assignments that you have suggested but, I created a...

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November 4th, 2014

Class of 2014

For our last meeting of the class, we had a death over dinner prior to the final seminar. The idea was to talk more about discussing end of life issues with patients by being sure we all knew how to talk about it with each other and our families first. We found a special room with a view of the harbor and had a wonderful evening. I am so proud of these new nurse practitioners. They are wonderful human beings full of compassion, and dedication to life and death with dignity.

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September 18th, 2014

Death Over Breakfast

We have a group of six couples who gather twice a month on Sundays to discuss topics both spiritual and non-spiritual. I took the opportunity to lead a Death Over Dinner conversation with the group and had a wonderfully engaged discussion. There was plenty of laughter as well as a few tears. The format helped all of us gain a better level of clarity about our preferences for end of life care and brought out areas where some of us need a little more discernment. In the end, half of our group have either created or updated existing end of life...

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September 18th, 2014

Talking Death over Dinner in London since 1991

Death over Dinner has been happening in London, UK for over 20 years! As part of the Natural Death Centre charity launch in April 1991 in London, we conducted a huge dinner discussion with invited speakers. This became a common event. At the first one we had 120 guests, but numbers began to dwindle to about half that in the following years. We had a lavish three course vegetarian meal provided by a wonderful local chef. The speakers were followed by a discussion where people shared personal experiences and ideas over coffee and dessert. Read More

September 18th, 2014

A knock on Death’s door

When my first child was born in 1990, I took an alternative birthing class, which led me to write a very detailed birth plan. As a first-time mother with absolutely no experience of labor and delivery or newborns, I spent hours on that plan, listing everything from the music to be played at various stages of labor, to the quiet, dark room I wanted to be my newborn’s first view of the world. Sometime in the midst of the actual labor, I threatened to bash my then-husband if he so much as touched his boom box or played my mix tape. By the time...

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September 13th, 2014

Death over coffee and cake

I am studying Counselling and Psychotherapy in Ireland. In Ireland, the ritual of the death, removal and burial is very much part of life yet the subject is still avoided as much as possible. I took your concept and adapted it for a experiential presentation on Loss and Death. I wanted to create a scene of normality whilst talking about a subject that we all avoid. So I had a tea party. I invited my fellow students and lecturer to tea to talk about death and loss. I designed invitation cards, menus and a cookbook. On the day I set up a...

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September 13th, 2014

These few hours of pure honesty…

My mother, Enee, and I hosted a Death Dinner at the beginning of this year at her studio in St. Petersburg, Florida. As it was during my winter break from college in Massachusetts, most of the guests were my mother’s colleagues or family friends. Still, they were handpicked and chosen for their potential adaptability to this unique assemblage. It turns out that everyone who attended had a breathtaking story to tell that conveyed their strength as survivors and gratitude for deceased loved ones. The struggle, or the “deathing” process, was...

Read More

September 13th, 2014

4 generations break bread and taboo. Northern CA

By Shannon Pettypiece As the sun set over the Pacific, four generations of Fisher’s family shared pizza, salad, tiramisu -- and their views on what they’d like to happen at the end of their lives. Even working in hospice care, Fisher realized death was still a taboo topic around her home and she was anxious to broach the subject. Helping to lighten the mood, all 16 of her friends and relatives, from her 7-year-old granddaughter, Kaya, to her 73-year-old mother, Nan Schwartz, donned gag mustaches that Fisher passed out. From her work in...

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July 12th, 2014

Old Man and The Sea. Vanuata

Jean-Paul Billandon, 68, a retired carpenter, and Casey Kelbaugh, 39, a photographer and the founder of Slideluck who is visiting to work on the Vanuatu Pacific Foundation , discuss Dinner Over Death on a remote island in the South Pacific on Saturday, August 24th. Photograph by Jerry Songolapa

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July 12th, 2014

There is a power in speaking about something. Manhattan

By Shannon Pettypiece At a Manhattan dinner party, former Citigroup Inc. (C) executive Steffen Landauer gathered an eclectic mix of guests at his apartment off Fifth Avenue to sip pinot noir, dine on seared salmon -- and talk about death. “I think about it a lot and talk about it very little,” Landauer said to the group, which included a filmmaker, a private school principal, and a professional storyteller. Not to be confused with a macabre parlor game, the evening was conceived to confront real-life issues wrapped up in death and dying...

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July 12th, 2014

A picture that says it all. Tokyo

On August 24th 2013, these 22 Japanese women gathered to have a death dinner. We wish we had a full transcript of the conversation!

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July 12th, 2014

Death in the Cougar Room. Seattle

By Greg Lundgren On Saturday, August 24th, we hosted a lovely dinner at Vito's (Seattle) titled Let's Get Together and Talk About Death. It was one of several hundred dinners happening around the world, and the invention of provocateur Michael Hebb. Thank you all for coming out, sharing your ideas and very personal stories and helping create healthy and much needed conversation about the way we live and die. Greg Lundgren is the Founder and CEO of Lundgren Monuments an organization that continues to examine and challenge our ideas of...

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July 12th, 2014

50 Gather to eat pasta and sauce and talk about end of life. Chicago

Life Matters Media celebrated its first anniversary with a ‘Death over Dinner’ event this week at the Italian Village in Chicago’s Loop. More than 50 gathered to share their end of life wishes over wine, pasta and birthday cake. “Our conversation is not meant to be a morbid one, but instead a very human discussion in which we consider what we truly want both in life and its closure,” said LMM President and Co-Founder Randi Belisomo. “We take on how we, individually, want to die: the most important and costly conversation America isn’t...

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July 12th, 2014

Father and Son. Boston

by Ethan Lisitz founder of Apliiq - co-hosted by his father Lewis A. Lipsitz, M.D., Vice President for Academic Medicine and Director of the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, MA, where he holds the Irving and Edyth S. Usen and Family Chair in Medical Research. I was curious about how a dinner focused around the topic of death would make everyone feel and braced myself for a challenging and depressing conversation. It turned out to be quite the opposite, our group had some amazing stories to share about loved ones...

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July 12th, 2014

100 people share a feast. Olean, NY

One bucket list item on the wish list at “Death Over Dinner” stated the participant would like to race in the Iditarod before he died. Another said she wanted to be a grandma before life slipped away. The wish list, containing comments from participants at Wednesday’s dinner gathering, was one of many aspects of the free event at the John Ash Community Center. The two-hour session brought older community members, their families and professionals together to talk about the importance of making final arrangements before it’s too late. The...

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July 12th, 2014

Assisted Living Facility hosts monthly death dinner. Anacortes, WA

By Katie Eastman Our dinner was held at an assisted living facility and included a diverse group of people at different ages and stages. The conversation was rich with sharing of fears about how we may die and our choices as we face dying. There was palpable expression of emotion as we laughed and cried and shared what each of us needed to express and had no other place to say. There was relief and healing. Our plan is to continue offering these gatherings monthly. "Katie Eastman hosted an amazing dinner last night in Anacortes, WA at...

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July 12th, 2014

Day of the Dead

by Christine Thomas My husband and I were invited by our son and his wife to a Death Dinner. Our daughter-in-law made it a special occasion by decorating the table with black lace, flowers, and Day of the Dead skulls she had painted. They made a fabulous dinner while we read our "homework" - the regrets people typically have at the end of life. I found it provocative and plan to re-read it periodically to "keep me on track." It echoed the thoughts I have as a 65 year old who wants to make the most of these retirement years. The TEDMED...

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July 12th, 2014

Hampton Roads’ FIRST EVER ‘Death Over Dinner’ & what made it like no other. Virginia Beach

By Diane Murdock Ten of us gathered for a family style dinner at my home in Virginia Beach on April 14th 2014. It was planned around the 7th Annual National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) on April 16th. We were following in the footsteps of the work of a group of healthcare and wellness leaders who are committed to break the taboo regarding conversations about end of life. This group launched a website and project on August 24th 2013 called “Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death.” www.deathoverdinner.org Here’s what set our dinner apart...

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July 12th, 2014

Hale Ku’ike Alzheimer’s care home. Honolulu

We hosted a Death Dinner for the families of the residents of Hale Ku'ike, an Alzheimer's care home in Honolulu (halekuike.com). We had 17 family members attend. It was a warm and touching evening. I will ask the families to leave feedback with you on this page as well. Here are some photos of the event. We held it at CookSpace Hawaii, a cooking class venue. Having it outside the facility made the families much more relaxed. We had great food and drink. We gave them handouts and made I Survived a Death Dinner magnets with this web address...

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July 12th, 2014

Dining at the grave of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Scottsdale, AZ

By Ken Ross We had 2 boys there that had never been to a cemetery and it was quite the experience for them! They both seemed to have a very good time and gained much from the experience. I know my mother would have loved the idea of the picnic so she could join in spirit.

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July 12th, 2014

I set out a fresh box of Kleenex near the dining table. Texas

By Pamela Skjolsvik Yesterday, I fretted over setting a nice table and creating a dinner that would provide a certain level of comfort to the six people who would be coming to my house. I knew at some point during the meal that someone was going to cry, and not about the burnt garlic bread or my poor selection of wine. They were going to cry about someone they loved who had died. I set out a fresh box of Kleenex near the dining table in case anyone needed to wipe their tears or blow their nose. Sounds like the fixings for a fun evening,...

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July 12th, 2014

Dinner in the Deep South. Decatur, GA

By Catherine Godbey On a cold winter evening, nine friends, relatives, partners and strangers gathered for a dinner party. Candles flickered on the wooden oval dining table as Karen Thomas welcomed the guests. “We are here tonight to talk about death,” she said. “Let’s start with a quick toast to those who have gone before us.” One by one, the diners raised a goblet and spoke the names of the dead. They remembered a stepmother who loved celebrations, a mother who feared dying, an influential grandfather, a 12-year-old boy in a red bathing...

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July 12th, 2014

OLSON KUNDIG [storefront] / The Making of the Table of Truth

Filmed by MCDM Students and Associate Director Scott Macklin http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KNJxuzNJHj0

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March 8th, 2013

MCDM Student hosts a Death Dinner

[note: as part of the University of Washington MCDM Course COM 592 each student generated their own death dinner and documented the results.] “For the devoted cook, and especially for the true host, few pleasures can compare with the intellectual satisfaction of planning a notable meal.” - Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb. There is certain rapture in planning a successful event. Whether I am throwing a carefully planned dinner party or simply having a few...

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February 5th, 2013