Lessons from COVID-19: It’s OK to talk about death | Opinion




The far-reaching impact of COVID-19 has forced many of us to reassess, reflect and question everything from our health to our careers. Thousands, however, are also having to confront something else: death. Many are doing so sooner than they would have ever imagined.

While the subject is understandably the last thing most would want to discuss during a global pandemic, Western culture is not comfortable with talking about death and hasn’t been for some time. The current and unfortunate reality, however, is that we need to be.

Our society is long overdue for a shift of collective consciousness that frames death as an inevitable part of life — one that should be embraced and planned for, rather than tabooed.

It is human nature to be frightened by the idea of death, but it does not have to be this way. Future generations would benefit from a shift in how we approach dying, illuminating the idea that is it a part of life — a natural progression, if you will. This begins with communication.

A core tenet of grief psychology is the ability to have open and frank conversations about death and dying, both in practical and emotional terms. As funeral directors, we are taught in our training to use terms like “dead,” “died” and “deceased,” as opposed to vaguer phrases like “passed on” when engaging our customers. Doing so works to demystify a process that many spend the majority of their lives ignoring to no avail.

I have encountered many customers who are at a loss for how to proceed following the tragic, unexpected passing of a loved one — a reality all too common in the current climate. The vast majority approach the process without the slightest idea as to how it works and what options are available.

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