• 36 Conversation Starters for Effective, Meaningful, and Insightful Death Talk

    Conversations about death taboo

    You might have read the first part of that title, nodded, then saw “Death Talk” and wondered why the hell you would want to have conversations around death. If so, you’re not alone.

    We pretty much universally fear death and avoid it at all costs, and that certainly includes talking or even thinking about it. While death is pretty widely covered in the local news, media, and pop culture – it’s not in a way that really encourages us to talk openly and directly about our own experiences, thoughts, and feelings around death. Sure, we can watch a war movie and we think “wow, that is awful,” but are we really diving deep into what that might be like? How it would feel to have to kill or be killed? How it affects us as humans to be in an environment where we have to fear death day in and day out?

    Of course not. Why the hell would we want to do that?

    Well, while I am not saying pause the movie to talk with your friend in that very moment, I am going to encourage you to start having conversations about death.


    Because I believe… no wait… I know that the more we talk about death, the more equipped we’ll be to handle, understand, and prepare for death in all it’s various forms.

    After losing my Dad rather unexpectedly about 15 months ago, I started down a journey of better understanding why we handle (or avoid handling) grief the way we do – both as the griever and the supporter – as well as how we generally talk about and approach personal discussions around death and grief.

    It’s time we change that. It’s time we start asking questions and not avoiding saying his or her name. It’s time we make the most universal human experience (death) not taboo. It’s real life. It’s unpredictable, confusing, and we don’t have the answers, but we can certainly discuss our beliefs, views, and feelings in order to find some clarity through this really shitty aspect of life.

    36 Conversation Starters for Effective, Meaningful, and Insightful Death Talk

    1. What was your first funeral experience and how did it affect you?

    2. Do you believe in reincarnation?

    3. Do you think animals fear death the way that humans do?

    4. What actually scares you most about death? And why?

    5. Do you remember when you first explained death as a child? Who was it and what did they say? How did that impact you?

    6. What do you think happens after we die?

    7. Do you think people actually come back

    8. If you were to write your obituary, what would it say?

    9. What do you hope people say about you at your funeral?

    10. Do you think we should have the option to commit suicide? What about if we are terminally ill? Why or why not?

    11. What are your wishes if you become incapable of living the same life you live now? Where do you draw the line medically?

    12. What words do you want to hear or conversation do you hope you have before you die? What would you “regret” if you never did?

    13. How do you feel about open casket? Why?

    14. How do you feel about cemeteries? Why?

    15. Why do you think different cultures deal with, celebrate, or approach so differently? Which stand out to you most?

    16. What one song would you want to be played at your funeral?

    17. Do you want to buried, cremated, or something else? Why?

    18. Do you believe in heaven? Why or why not? And if so, what do you think it’s like?

    19. What would be the “best” way to do in your opinion?

    20. How old do you hope to live to be?

    21. If you just lost someone very close to you, what would be the best words someone could say to you in that moment?

    22. Would you rather die suddenly/quickly or have time to say goodbyes (terminal illness)? Why or why not?

    23. Do you think animals grieve?

    24. Why do people die?

    25. What do you dislike most about funerals?

    26. What do you think is one thing we, as a society, do “wrong” when handling or dealing with death or grief?

    27. Do you think people can become immune to death?

    28. Do you think there is such pain as a “worse” death over another?

    29. Do you believe in ghosts? Explain.

    30. What do you think is the healthiest way to “handle” grief?

    31. What do you think is the least healthiest way to “handle” grief?

    32. What do you WISH would happen

    33. Have you written a will? Why or why not?

    34. What is the purpose of funerals?

    35. Whose death do you most fear? How do you plan to handle it?

    36. How do you think having to kill someone (in self defense or acts of war) affects a human being?


    Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start thinking about these questions, more and more will start to evolve naturally and that’s the best part about having these types of conversations. Let them go where they need to go. It might turn into talking about very personal experiences with a new friend, or it might be a lively debate with family members about the meaning of life. There is not right or wrong way to do this, but the more we choose to engage in these conversations, the better off (I believe) we’ll all be in dealing with the inevitable.





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