The topic of death pervades our daily life via the media we access. We hear about it in daily news reports (e.g., in memoriam of a famous person, as a result of an accident or violence, tied to regional and national conflicts, or from genocide, etc.). Television includes numerous shows that focus on death (e.g., police/crime dramas, shows on the work of coroners or pathologists, murder mysteries), or at least include death in most episodes (e.g., medical dramas). There are also a large variety of books and book series involving death and dying that have made the New York Times “What to Read” series. Some examples about death and dead bodies are series by authors such as Patricia Cornwall and James Patterson. On social media we find death announcements, online obituaries, Facebook memorials, condolences, and annual death anniversary posts. Despite our daily exposure to death through the media, we rarely voluntarily engage with death-related topics on a more personal level (The Lancet, 2022). We typically do not think or talk about death, ours or our loved ones, and when such death-related topics come up, we feel discomfort and often shy away from them and/or discourage the discussion through our words and actions (e.g., “Mum we don’t need to talk about that now. You are going to be around for a long time”).
Click the links to learn more about why we avoid talking about death: