What’s For Dinner?

by | Apr 10, 2024

Sorry, if you started reading in order to pick up some recipes or meal ideas, I may have misled you. But now that I have your attention, are you open to thinking about discussing Death over Dinner? What!?! Who chose to write about this topic and tie it to a relaxing and enjoyable subject like dinner?

That would be me. Let me explain.

An Old Movement

“Death Over Dinner” is actually a non-profit, global “movement” started in 2013 that encourages people to gather over dinner and talk about what we want to happen when we die, which as their website says, is the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having.

There is actually a book about it too. The book is meant to help encourage people to create what they describe as an “uplifting, interactive adventure that transforms this seemingly difficult conversation into one of deep engagement, insight, and empowerment.”

The Inevitable

I totally agree that we are not having this important conversation, but I also know that there are two inevitables in life – death and taxes. And the two things we tend to fear the most (death and public speaking) leave the subject of death NOT at the top of the list of things anyone enjoys or wants to think about, let alone talk about. So, because we humans tend to need to hear about things 7+ times before we act on them, that brings me to my recommended CTA (Call to Action) for this month.

Look Around the Table

I am not suggesting you bring up the topic of death over dinner at one of your upcoming meal, holiday, or special event gatherings. Instead, to help your brain begin to ponder and think more about your final wishes, I encourage you to look around the table as you share those meals this month and the next several months in order to think about those smiling faces of family and friends.

Ask yourself: How can I help keep those smiles on those faces down the road when it comes to my time to leave this world? Have I taken steps to ease that transition? Are my wishes in writing and my records organized to help reduce the stress of that process? Have I really taken care of my loved ones all the way to the end?

Think Intentionally

How best do you do that? How do you trigger as little stress as possible during an already stressful and 100% guaranteed to happen event? The key is to think intentionally about it in advance. You want to avoid a scavenger hunt and instead make everything organized and findable for loved ones when the time comes.

The Stuff

And I can’t reiterate enough that it is often “the stuff” that causes the most disagreement among families. I see “giving while you’re living” becoming more popular. Giving away items you already aren’t using, especially when you know who you want to enjoy them after you are gone, is the perfect fit for that idea.

My mother-in-law gave each of her daughters-in-law a lovely crystal serving dish/plate from the Easter meal one year, as an example. She also shared jewelry from her working years that she no longer finds herself wearing.

The List

I also hear a lot of stories about stikee notes on the back of items throughout the house as another way to designate who gets what. My Personal Property Disposition List is another way to clarify your wishes. Any sheet of paper can also serve that same purpose as long as you clearly indicate the item, the name of the recipient, and sign/date at the bottom, storing it with your other estate planning documents. Not having anything in writing is too often an invitation for your heirs to “duke it out” amongst themselves, and unfortunately too often that is exactly what they will do!

Write Your Happy Ending

This thought process is really a gift you give to yourself AND your family… end-of-life and estate planning peace of mind. So, I encourage you to just keep this “death over dinner” idea in your mind over the next few months as you look around the table at mealtimes. You are in charge of writing the happy ending for your life story. And if you do it well, check out my website for lots of ideas and tools, your family will eventually thank you!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you experienced the peace of having your financial house in order? How can we think differently about an inevitable time for our families? Have you experienced an organized or disorganized loss of a loved one?

Marie Burns is a Certified Financial Planner, Speaker, and Author of the bestselling Financial Checklist books. Find Marie on Facebook or contact her at [email protected]

This article was first published at 60 and Me – a community that helps women over 60 live happy, healthy and financially secure lives.