When was the last time you thought about death? Perhaps it was tied to something in the daily news coverage or in a popular crime drama you were reading or watching. What about the last time you talked about death, what did you talk about and with whom? When was the last time you talked to people in your life about issues related to death and dying, including what both you and they want at the end of life? The purpose of this chapter’s assigned material (chapter content, including embedded links and videos, assigned readings and viewings, and the chapter assignment) is to get you to think about death and dying on a more personal level, to understand the importance of talking about death, and to begin these crucial conversations with those you love. This material also introduces you to some of the topics we will be covering in this course and to the orientation of this course more generally – one that challenges you to think about and push past the discomfort we associate with death and dying, to participate in the process of bringing conversations about death back into life, and to embrace death positivity more generally.
After completing the chapter materials, you should have an understanding of:
- The approach we will be taking in this course to the subject matter of death and dying.
- The social reluctance to engage in discussions of death.
- The importance of engaging in conversations about death with family and loved ones.
- Ideas of how to start “the conversation”.
Questions to Think About When Completing Chapter Materials
- How have you approached/dealt with/responded to conversations about death in your life?
- How can death positivity bring about healthy social change?
- What are your wishes for end-of-life care (e.g., where do you wish to be; with whom; who will be your primary care giver; are there treatments you do or do not want, etc.)?