Death Cafe

The Applause Around the World

It’s funny, I went to a Death Cafe a few weeks ago and many people seemed frustrated  speaking about death seemed taboo in most social circumstances. I went to dinner with a friend and we ended up talking a lot  about death. After our dinner, I realized, maybe we talked about it too much for her taste? I started thinking, maybe I just talk about death too much. Of course, then I thought, so why the hell have a blog that talks about death so much? What’s the point of writing about something no one really wants to read  or cares about?

Sometimes the internet feels like a massive return to high school, one HUGE massive popularity contest. If you’re not popular, you just don’t exist.  It’s annoying. I don’t mind not being popular. Oh sure, it would be nice to be popular, to be loved, adored, but what if you can’t, or don’t’ want to be a popular person? Oprah always said she wished everyone knew what it was like to walk into a room and the entire place stood up and clapped for you. For most people, if that happened once in a lifetime, it would be great. I’m sure many would say she deserves those claps of affection, yes, yes, yes, I know. However, 3/4 of the rest of the ordinary world deserves a round of applause too; Moms, dads, grandparents, friends, kids, teachers, garbage men, hospice workers and on and on.

I was standing in front of my refrigerator and out of the blue I was struck with this notion it was important to keep taking and writing about death. It was like I was looking into a black hole, but it wasn’t scary, it was very comforting and confident. I’d even say it felt like a relief?

Later in the day I thought to myself, what would be the danger, or problem with talking about death openly and often? Seems silly to ask, what if we all felt conformable enough with death to talk about it openly and randomly? DOn’t we do it sometimes? Like when you warn a child, “you’ll be sorry, one day I’ll be gone!” What if it wasn’t  something that struck our hearts like a knife when we had to talk about it seriously?  What if death didn’t make us cry instantaneously? Depress the crap out of us? Clear a room in a single word? Would we live and love better? Would we take life for granted more or less than we already do? What’s the danger in feeling comfortable and accepting of death?

So I decided, for a year, I am going to think about aspects of death and  see what it does to my life. Obviously, not the hardest thing to do considering I am studying many aspects of death, but I wonder, if becoming more comfortable with death will make me live differently? Better or Worse?

This one is for anyone who hits play.

 

Composure

BIrthing

I spent a ton of time writing a post about my Death Cafe experience, and for some reason (GRRRR) it didn’t save on WordPress. Soooooo I’m sorta frustrated and feel like moving on. Long story short, Death Cafe Good, check one out if you can.

This morning saw a video of a guy who jumped into a shark infested ocean to “surf” a dead whale. I wondered, where did he learn so much comfort and acceptance of death? Of fleshy decay? They guy practically sinks his face into a decomposing whale.  At the Death Cafe, I guess I am going to write a little about this, many people seemed frustrated American society seems to have an unspoken ban on talking about death openly. For example, I mentioned I went to a Death Cafe to a few people, they thought it was creepy and too depressing to ever go to one. Ironically, it also happened to be Halloween and half the people I saw– Zombies? We can’t speak of death, but we can play dead? Is this a subliminal message we’re all missing?

What if we felt as comfortable with death? Took it a step further, became comfortable with all the unpleasantness that comes along with death? You know, the emotional pain, the bloat, the stiffening, the smells? Is ignorance truly bliss when it comes to death?  If we think about it, the process of death, of decay, is about as green as you can get. Being green is good, right?  It’s sort of the ultimate homage to going green, but this is the unspoken green? The decomposition of a body is as natural as the composing of a fetus. When we welcome a life we study, prepare, learn and fill many lives with hopes and dreams. When death arrives we scramble, grasp, wonder, and often stress the strongest of relationships with grief and  loss. A palliative care doctor in my group asked, “When did death become such a tragedy in America?”

So, here’s this guy, on the other side of the world, jumping into shark infested water, sinking his face into rotting flesh, floating around, living life to the fullest? Or is he just interested in Building the worlds most unusual bucket list? Was he so over educated in how to be cool, someone forgot to educate him about death? Now, he says he was an “idiot”.  Did he realize ignorance motivated his actions?  If families don’t talk about death, if communities don’t talk about death, aren’t we all capable of surfing a dead whale too?

BTW no, I’m not advocating dead whale surfing and yes, I am rambling a bit.