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An Excuse to Talk About Death

An Excuse to Talk About Death

by: Andrew J. Parver, Director of Operations

Five years ago, July 14, 2010, I wrote the post below.  It’s still very much relevant.

An Excuse to Talk About Death
I’ve found that talking about death is a taboo subject.  People don’t want to talk about it.  There is no easy way to bring it up.  This is problematic when family members or social workers want to discuss end of life issues with their loved ones or clients.  “How do we bring up death?”  is among the questions I’m most often asked.

“How do we bring up death?”

I suggest that people follow the news for clues.  When someone famous dies, a window is opened for a serious discussion about our own mortality.  Recently, there have been two examples that serve as examples.  Senator Robert C. Byrd from West Virginia and George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.  Both were major public figures whose deaths were (and in Mr. Steinbrenner’s case, are still) major media stories.  It is our job to create a conversation that will allow us to springboard towards our loved ones.

Michael Jackson’s death last summer provided me with a great teaching moment for high school students.  It opened an avenue to discuss how the Jewish approach to a funeral and burial was so very different than what we saw on TV and read in the papers.  And I found that the students were able to relate to these differences.

An important note:  Every situation is unique and regardless how the conversation is brought up, it needs to be done sensitively and with undivided attention.  Blackberries and phones need to be turned off.  The person needs to feel that you’re speaking with them out of love and concern, and not because you’re “anxious to see them go” and are already onto the next task.

2 Comments
  • gail garyn
    Posted at 13:36h, 19 July Reply

    MY mom is in a nursing home and has parkinsens. My mom had a hard life and usually when I go to see her she is lively and talks.
    Yesterday I went and she was sleeping the whole time not knowing what was going on I found out she is having trouble breathing, and now has copd nobody at the nursing home let me know , she had a treatment and still not that good. It is in that moment that I realized that I will loose my best friend the one who helped me through life, tried her best. I keep thinking she gave birth to me and now she wont be here any more. As a mother I know there is no one in this world who loves you more and i will loose that love soon and nobody will ever love me the same.

    • Andrew Parver
      Posted at 14:46h, 20 July Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.

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