Death & Dying – A Taboo Topic or a Joyful, Normal Conversation?

by Jane Keep, UK

In the last few days a close relative of mine has passed over. Something that struck me in these last few weeks is how scared she was of dying. In talking this through with a wise practitioner I got to feel how strange it is that in many parts of the globe, talking about dying openly and preparing people for passing over is not naturally done. Yes, there are many amazing nurses, doctors and carers who are experienced in supporting people who pass over, but generally in society in my recent experience, a lot of people are uneasy talking about it, and we don’t educate people about the process of dying. 

I realise that although people die in many different ways, some form of simple, clear education could help people prepare for their own passing over, and to understand the passing over of their relatives or friends as and when this occurs. And just as we openly discuss births, and the physical body’s process of birth (even to the extent that I remember in school being shown a video of a woman giving birth), we could also openly discuss death and dying.

What I am now wondering is –

What if part of everyone’s schooling, education, and upbringing included learning about the cycles of life, and death, and how natural they are, and to offer education for everyone about dying, and what naturally happens to the body as it prepares to pass over?

What if over dinner at home, or during a cup of tea with a friend, it was quite natural to talk about dying just as it is natural to talk about a new baby, or about moving home?

What if we knew of someone who was close to passing over, or was terminally ill, and instead of tip-toeing in our conversations with them, we just talked about the process of dying as naturally as talking about what we had for our breakfast?

What if we truly, joyfully celebrated with those who were due to pass over with a few loving  words and a true light-ness and playfulness? Celebrating their life and  honouring them in death?

Of course everyone deals with death differently and the prospect of someone close to us dying brings up a range of feelings and can be a very emotionally challenging and distressing time. I wonder if in having more open conversations about death we could also discuss our grief around death with more clarity also? Would it also mean that we viewed death differently? Would it mean people who were dying would experience the process of dying differently?

As my close relative surrendered into those final hours, there was a sense of grace with her as she passed over. However I feel she may have found the experience in the months leading up to her passing over quite different if she, and our friends and relatives had been able to share our feelings more openly about how we felt about death and dying during that time. A conversation that was graceful, natural and open for us all to express our feelings. A conversation that was celebratory of her life and at the same time one that recognised the natural end of a cycle.

1,169 thoughts on “Death & Dying – A Taboo Topic or a Joyful, Normal Conversation?

  1. I totally agree. I wish we talked about death and the cycle of life when I was growing up. I noticed how when my mum would bring up the topic of her will, that I would shut down and tell her to stop being so morbid…because dying has never been made a normal thing to talk about in society, like it’s taboo and dirty. it’s like we just completely ignore that it happens despite the very fact it is inevitable and so normal it’s ridiculous.

    1. Our attitude to death is also reflective of our attitude to life. If we are irresponsible and not looking at the truth of death what does that tell us about how we are living?!

  2. Many people can be afraid to talk about death or dying as it brings up a lot of emotional pain, what you are suggesting here Jane makes a lot of sense, it is time we began speaking more openly about death and dying and making it a very ‘normal’ conversation instead of a taboo subject that it has become.

  3. It is so very important to talk about death and the process of dying and not avoid this inevitable and unavoidable part of life until our last breath.

  4. Could it be a taboo subject because we all know that we have accepted a lie about death? This whole story about we only live once is at the root of so many of our ills as a society. Understanding the science of reincarnation is now critical for mankind to grasp.

    1. Could it be that we don’t talk about it, or want to look at death and dying as it calls us to a deeper level of responsibility when we reawaken ourselves to the truth?

  5. Great points Jane. We learn about the cycles of a butterfly and a frog at school but strangely enough we do not study the cycles of a human being. Death is fascinating to young children. When I was a child at a catholic school the call would go out to the playground that there was a dead nun in the chapel and there would like a stampede toward the chapel door. We would all line up. My point being is that children are not shy about talking about death so why is it not discussed?

  6. This is a sensational article, it is absolutely true in my opinion that if we discussed and stopped all the dark vibes towards the subject of dying then people experiencing actually passing over would not be so freaked out. We need to turn the tide, regardless of us agreeing or disagreeing on what happens after death, I mean, we all disagree on what happens in life but that does not mean that we do not educate on birth?

  7. It feels very disempowering when we feel like we have to turn to the so-called experts (the priest and the monks etc.) when the moment of death arrives and we don’t know what to do because we have been avoiding talking about it let alone dealing with it the whole time.

  8. A lot of people who are dying are dying to talk about it but their relatives are in denial and won’t go there. It is a huge healing for everyone to bring it into the open.

    1. I agree Nicola – it is possibly one of the top ‘taboo’ topics in the modern world that is undiscussed – and yet it would be natural for us to discuss it just like any other part of life.

  9. I would like to pass with a smile on my face, at ease with the relationships in my life and knowing that I had completed what was there to be done/expressed/shared. I feel we live with a tension that we have not or do not do that and therefore a delay in our bodies. These conversations we don’t have are part and parcel of that delay and it would be so wonderful to choose a new normal in all our expression so we are at ease with our passing and talking to each other about death.

    1. I agree Lucy “it would be so wonderful to choose a new normal in all our expression so we are at ease with our passing and talking to each other about death.” We have made another way ‘normal’ whereby we don’t talk about death, and we fear it, when it doesn’t need to be that way. There can be grace and beauty in all eras/phases of life and in death too.

  10. We are going home when we die, we are shedding our body and will feel once again the illusion of separation. I have never been afraid of death, I often wondered why as a little girl and as I have had more years on earth and my body has aged, I have discovered that I was simply feeling where I came from, what we are made of and who we are. It is love. If we lived with a deeper sense of where we all come from – that there really are only external differences to us and celebrate the many diverse expressions we are here to offer, I feel we would have more harmony and less war. Is that naive or is it actually the wisdom children are born with that we step away from as we see a normal reflected to us that is vastly different and then doubt ourselves?

  11. Talking about death and dying is still a taboo subject so it is great to read blogs like yours Jane that open up the conversation and be willing to talk about death in a loving caring way. Until we do we will carry on being in fear of something that will happen to us all, so why not prepare ourselves knowing that how we leave this life will be they way return to it in the next life.

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