Let’s Talk About Death, Baby.

In the immortal words of Salt-N-Pepa:

“(Punch it, Hurb
Yo, I don’t think we should talk about this
Come on, why not?
People might misunderstand what we’re tryin’ to say, you know?
No, but that’s a part of life)

Come on”

The song, “Let’s Talk About Sex” continues thusly but as you read, feel free to substitute sex with death. (only in the lyrics, not in real life)

Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex

Let’s talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
Those who think it’s dirty have a choice
Pick up the needle, press pause, or turn the radio off
Will that stop us, Pep? I doubt it
All right then, come on, Spin

Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex

If you think about it, the reasons we don’t talk about sex and the reasons we don’t talk about death have a great deal in common. We don’t talk about sex because the mention of it is taboo, considered gauche or low class. Ditto, death. We don’t talk about sex because it involves aspects of our lives too sensitive to be discussed in detail. We don’t talk about sex because we believe we can stop it from happening among the people for whom we don’t want it to happen. (i.e. young teens, etc.  ) Ditto death, because not talking about it won’t make it go away. But, there is one big difference, sex is a choice. Death’s generally not. Why talk about death, then? Because  it’s the one thing we all have in common and very few of us deal with that reality effectively. The results of us being in group denial is that death causes so many problems for the living and for the dying. From inheritance battles to battles over end of life care to sibling rivalry to battles over who “Mom loved best.” Many of these could be avoided by exposing the reality of death to the light of day.

Talking about death may not be able to stave death off but it can make the whole experience easier for all, the dying as well as the living.  Making your wishes clear to your loved ones enables them to help you when the time comes to have the death you want. Do you want to be kept alive at all costs?   Do you want to be hooked up to machines that may breathe for you and feed you? Or would you rather go naturally and perhaps faster? Voice your choice.  What do you want to happen to the possessions you own? Do you care who gets your family photos or archives? What about the dresser you inherited from your Aunt Tilly? Or your father’s pinky ring? Who should get that? What should happen to your beloved pets? What about your money? Who gets what and how much? And why? If you need to leave more money to a loved one because he or she has greater need, tell your other loved ones your reasons while you still can. Dying with wishes unsaid helps no one. And, if you have a message you want your loved ones to hear, don’t wait until after you’re dead to deliver it. Don’t send a message via your will. (But do have a will!) Tell your loved ones the things you want them to know while you can. In fact, do it today, because no one is assured of a tomorrow. You can choose to have or not to have sex tomorrow. But you can’t choose whether you’ll be hit by a bus tomorrow. So, don’t wait. Voice you choice today.

Maybe death needs a snappy slogan to encourage people to talk about it more. How about one of these? “Death Talk: Just Do It!” “Death Discussion: Because You’re Worth It!” “Can You Hear Me Now?” Fed Ex had a good slogan, “Because there is no tomorrow.” That would work. Or how about Burger King’s “Have It Your Way?” Or, why not, “A Life is A Terrible Thing to Waste?” Choose one and use it to motivate yourself to talk with the people you love about the life you live and how you hope to see it end. It literally will not kill you to talk about it. You’ll be glad you did.

Perhaps death  needs a theme song to make the whole concept more palatable. I have an idea. Why not use this one? Check the video for the tune and sing along changing the lyrics as follows:

Let’s talk about death, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about death
Let’s talk about death
Let’s talk about death
Let’s talk about death

Let’s talk about death for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about death on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be

Once you’re motivated, you may need a guide or an agenda to follow for your big talk On my next blog post, I’ll share 10 aspects of death everyone should discuss. Read it, share it, print it out as an agenda for your next family dinner! Meanwhile, enjoy the music and singing along, changing the lyrics as needed.

Finally, I ask you to consider carefully… Can you do it? Can you talk about death openly? Can you encourage others to do so too? We’ll all be a lot happier….literally in the end… if we can. Please spread the word. I’m thinking we can start a movement called, “Happy Endings.” Will you join?