Our duties and chores, bureaucracy, break ups, midlife crises, terminations –all these tragedies, large and small, we must deal with as humans in modern society. They are discussed a great deal, both in interpersonal interactions and in the various medias offering different solutions and tools for coping.
But the most certain of all hardships, which has always existed, and we will all experience at one point or another – death, this is what most of mankind usually chooses to repress. And it is no wonder. The meeting with death is difficult, loss is a pain like no other, and the thought of our own death is inconceivable. And as the saying goes – the best way to be happy is not to think about our problems. But is this really so?
Recent years have brought social networks into our lives and transformed the world into a global village; this, to some extent, has alleviated the taboo around death. A growing and developing movement of people and groups have began forming initiatives around the subject of death, as they call for an open and enabling dialogue on the subject.
The United States was one of the first to champion this cause, when a number of employees from the country’s health and welfare services started an online initiative which gain a following of thousands of people. It is called “Death over dinner”. The initiative calls upon families to gather around the dinner table and have an open and honest discussion regarding death – whether one that has already happened or is yet to come. The discussion should be with a person nearing the end of his life, and the assumption is this will enable a more profound understanding of his desires and will spare the family great difficulty regarding the decisions they will have to make after death. The website provides reading materials and joint viewing materials, and even offers a proposed script for such an evening. The script is adapted to fit the person requesting it, to make it easier for him or her to find the right words. The project also allows you to join a growing community and receive support from those who have already experienced or are undergoing this unique experience.
An additional community gaining members and momentum was established in the United Kingdom in 2011 and offers a similar concept. It is called “Death Caffe”, and its approach is slightly different: it calls upon people, even strangers, to meet and discuss death from a place of striving for a better and fuller life. The goal is to improve their relationships while they are still alive, while jointly processing their fears and concerns regarding death. All those who are interested can join and become ambassadors of the foundation, to speak on its behalf in the media and host “Death Caffe” meeting at their home, after completing the mandatory online training.
And so, in an advanced society like the one we live in, which provides us with almost unlimited access to information and many easy opportunities to create interactions and relationships with new people through digital media, the conditions are ripe for a revolution regarding the attitude towards death. It is no wonder the taboo around the subject is beginning to dissipate and many people find opportunities in such ventures to share their thoughts and feelings about death, to find a space for sharing and comfort.