‘Remember you will die’ – and 11 other tips for a better death

Hundreds of thousands of people have already discussed the last great taboo at one of Michael Hebb’s ‘death dinners’. Here he offers some advice for the rest of usTwo things preoccupy the US writer Michael Hebb – food and death – and he has managed to combine them in his new book, Let’s Talk About Death Over Dinner. It is the product of an idea he had five years ago when he set up an organisation called Death Over Dinner, whose goal was to bring disparate (and sometimes desperate) people together over an informal meal to talk about what is so often a taboo subject. Since then there have been more than 200,000 “death dinners” all over the world. The new book charts the gentle revolution Hebb initiated, as well as offering prompts for readers who want to organise their own death dinners and guidance on coming to terms with the loss of family and friends, and with our own mortality. No one, after all, is going to get out of this alive.“The way we die in western society is broken,” says Hebb. Now 42, he was 13 when his father died, leaving a gap that he felt his mother and immediate family were unable to properly address. “I had a hunch that open conversation about our end-of-life wishes could be the most impactful thing we could do to heal that system and to heal the way we die. We are death-illiterate, and when we don’t discuss death we are not empowered to make decisions.” In a long phone conversation from his home in Seattle, he spells out his philosophy for dealing with dying. You may not be able to conquer death, but you can at least exercise some control over how it happens. Continue reading…

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