Death Dinners


“I think about it a lot and talk about it very little,” Landauer said to the group, which included a filmmaker, a private school principal, and a professional storyteller. Not to be confused with a macabre parlor game, the evening was conceived to confront real-life issues wrapped up in death and dying that few people like to acknowledge, let alone talk about at a dinner party. Would I want a feeding tube? Does dad want to die at home? What happens to my kids if I die in an accident along with my spouse?

As boomers begin to age, more of them are getting together with their families to discuss the difficult question of what should happen in the event of their death. The so-called “death dinners” are hosted by people who invite close family members and friends to discuss things like living wills (70 percent of adults don’t have a living will, according to the Pew Research Center), whether or not they’d like to be buried or cremated, and what kind of medical interventions they’d like (“Don’t tube me,” one mother says. “If I am pooping in my pants or in diapers, I’m out of here.”) There are even websites dedicated to helping people plan their death dinners. It’s a good idea if none of this stuff has been discussed openly in the family, and bringing everyone together gets everyone on the same page (you avoid the “but mom told me [x]” arguments).

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