Thursday, June 20, 2013

Talking About Death: The Last Taboo

Life & Death

An article by Paula Span, in The New York Times says that discussions of death are becoming more normal; there is a movement of sorts where individuals meet in cafes to talk about one of the last remaining taboos and to delve into all of its implications.

Span writes:
“I’m more interested, philosophically, in what is death? What is that transition?” Dr. Tosiello said at a recent meeting in a Manhattan coffee shop, where eight people had shown up on a Wednesday night to discuss questions that philosophers have grappled with for ages.
The group, which meets monthly, is called a Death Cafe, one of many such gatherings that have sprung up in nearly 40 cities around the country in the last year. Offshoots of the “café mortel” movement that emerged in Switzerland and France about 10 years ago, these are not grief support groups or end-of-life planning sessions, but rather casual forums for people who want to bat around philosophical thoughts. What is death like? Why do we fear it? How do our views of death inform the way we live?
“Death and grief are topics avoided at all costs in our society,” said Audrey Pellicano, 60, who hosts the New York Death Cafe, which will hold its fifth meeting on Wednesday. “If we talk about them, maybe we won’t fear them as much.”
There is much truth in that statement. Every living species eventually dies; this is a proven and unassailable fact. Avoiding the subject of death will not deter its appearance; talking about our final outcome might actually be cathartic, much in the same way that facing our worst fears is.

Death, by its finality, is the ultimate fear that humans generally face, chiefly because we know nothing about what takes place after death. (Those that claim near-death experiences would argue otherwise.) If there is any consolation, as a way of comparison, I have learned much from having cancer, most notable being that it is not as bad as many fear. Moreover, it’s a great tutor in placing great importance on living and  loving life

The rest of the article can be found at [NYT]