Let’s Talk About Death

Or, more precisely, let’s talk about life before we encounter death.

I work in healthcare and recently attended the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California‘s annual conference on the topic of hospice and palliative care in Newport Beach. The conference brought together clinical types (physicians, nurses and other patient facing staff) and non-clinical types (hospital administrators, marketing and communications individuals like myself, volunteers and members of the public), bringing together a community of experts to learn and discuss advancements and changes in the fields of palliative and hospice care.

CCCC logo

Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, the organization which hosts an annual conference on palliative and hospice care.

While the conversations we had revolved around palliative care – an area of healthcare focused on relieving patients’ pain – and hospice care – a slightly different part of healthcare revolving around relieving pain during the end-of-life or during a terminal illness, some of the topics and speakers drew our attention towards questions such as:

  • How often do we talk about death as a society, from a casual-dinner-conversation type of conversation?
  • How is it detrimental to our society to be so afraid to speak about death?

Many of us can get incredibly involved in financial planning for our future – from the time we obsess over our 401(k)s and retirement plans, to ensuring that we have the proper insurance – but thinking or planning about our death is often seen as too morbid or uncomfortable.

  • How can you make your final wishes known if you haven’t faced that fact that you might one day pass?
  • If we do so much around planning for birth, why do we not talk and plan as much around death?

Is death something that you feel comfortable talking about? Do you wish you could feel more comfortable in talking about it?


Jen Burstedt

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