Death is scary. In a 2017 study conducted by Chapman University, just over 20% of people fear death, with an additional 30% concerned about something that involves death – like murder by a stranger or someone you know.
While the fear of death isn’t uncommon, how we discuss our concerns is uncommon. In fact, talking about death is easier said than done, but with events like death dinners, living funerals and death cafes, more and more people are realizing the necessity of communicating our wishes, before we pass away.
Events that go over our anxiety and concerns surrounding the death are more common than ever before. They are so ordinary that you can now sign up for group events to face your concerns in a light-hearted gathering. New get-togethers known as death dinners exist to alleviate the awkward conversation that is mortality.
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- Are you planning a death dinner (to discuss your wishes after you're gone)?
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- International property and the problem with multiple taxes after death
What is a death dinner?
A death dinner is an opportunity for family members and friends to come together and discuss this taboo topic: estate planning and life after a loved one passes away. Together, the family decides what will happen to their belongings, and they’ll also spend time together to make this situation less overwhelming and scary.
Aside from death dinners, there are its equally known counterparts, death cafes and living funerals. Death cafes are gatherings for people who are afraid of death and what that means for them. Living funerals are celebrations of life with the person you are celebrating there with you.
Each of these events has its twang to make the moment fit with whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Websites like deathoverdinner.org can help you plan the perfect event that will empower you to take control of your afterlife. Not only will you choose your attendees, but you’ll also describe your intention. Perhaps a loved one has a terminal illness, maybe you’re ready to plan your estate, or it may just be the right time to have an awkward conversation. To end, you can choose some materials for your guests to read or watch, so that they understand the purpose behind this event.
What are the benefits of discussing life after death?
Rather than have to face the unknown sit down with an executor or lawyer, if you prepare these discussions ahead of time, you’ll be much better off.
Developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, told TIME magazine that giving the things you love — such as your childhood home or journals — to the next generation can make the fear of death less anxiety-inducing. The idea of leaving the world a better place than it was when you arrived can be all that some people need to feel as though they’ve done enough to prepare for life after death.
Among reducing your anxiety, hosting a death dinner can also make you funnier. Michael Hebb, the author of Let’s Talk About Death Over Dinner, told The Calgary Herald that conversations about death show our capacity to love and connect with our partners when we face our own mortality.
Should you host a death dinner?
If you feel comfortable and open to the idea of having these discussions with your loved ones, this can be a great way to prepare for your estate rather than leaving anything up in the air once you’ve passed.
As much as estate plans are helpful and necessary, it doesn’t always make clear what you’d like done or said, and it doesn’t always give you the chance to discuss your wants and wishes respectfully. However, a death dinner isn’t the only way to prepare your estate.
What are some other ways to prepare for life after death?
Preparing your estate for the inevitable includes having a will that assigns an executor, beneficiaries and what you wish to see happen with your assets after death. Not only should you prepare a will and estate plan, but you should also include an estate binder that shares information about digital assets and information about any passwords that may not be readily available to a loved one.
Take control of your assets and life after death by reviewing the following:
No matter what you think about death, there are plenty of ways to control those overwhelming thoughts that tend to cause anxiety. Hosting a death dinner, living funeral or death cafe might be precisely what you and your loved ones need.