Critter Corner: Talking About Death Over Dinner

Dear Angel

My wife and I have most of our important conversations while we are sharing a meal. We are beginning to see the importance of planning for our future and for our loved ones. We have two young children to think about and recently witnessed a loved one on her side of the family passing away without her documents in place. I read about something called, “Death Over Dinner.” Do you know anything about it and how we can set it up in our home?


Dean Errtox


Dear Dean,

I am sorry for your loss.

Conversations about End of Life Care often take place at a hospital during a crisis. Many people die in a way they wouldn’t choose, with loved ones left feeling guilty, bereaved, and anxious.

The Death Over Dinner movement was created by Michael Hebb to enable people to share end of life wishes and plan a dinner to help others share theirs.

In a TEDMED talk about the project, Hebb says he was inspired after coming across two startling statistics: “The vast majority of American bankruptcies are related to medical expenses, especially those related to end-of-life care;” and “(w)hile 75% of Americans say they want to die at home, only 25% actually do.” How we end our lives, he says in the talk, is the most important and costly conversation we aren’t having.

“The dinner table is the most forgiving place for difficult conversation,” the project’s website notes. “The ritual of breaking bread creates warmth and connection, and puts us in touch with our humanity.”

For those who want to host a dinner, the project’s website offers suggested reading for guests to peruse before they gather.

Since the Death Over Dinner project was founded two years ago, more than 70,000 people in over 20 countries have gathered to dine and discuss their views on a “good” death, and the issues that will matter to them in their senior years. If you decide to share a discussion about death and a delicious dinner with friends, we hope it goes well, and please be sure to share your experiences with us in the comment section below!

Hope this is helpful,


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