Many people acknowledge that two of the most challenging conversations to have are those surrounding someone who is dying and those about a person who has died. The fact is that an important part of the grieving process in most cases is to talk about an impending death as well as one that has occurred. This discussion highlights the importance of talking about the impending death of a loved one as well as the actual passing of such a person. This includes a focus on some specific benefits that can be derived from talking about dying and death. 

Five Stages of Grief

Before diving deeper into a discussion about the importance of talking about death and dying, a review of the five stages of grief developed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross provides an important structure for this consideration. The five stages of grief developed by Kubler Ross are:

  • Denial 
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

A misconception rather frequently associated with the five stages of grief is that they flow in the specific order enumerated here. In fact, the five stages of grief actually are more fluid. A person can go from one stage to another in a sequence totally different from the order typically set forth when the five stages are discussed. In addition, a person might experience one or more of the steps associated with the five stages of grief more than one time. 

The stages might overlap one another as well. For example, a person may experience anger and bargaining at the same time. 

Every Person Grieves in His or Her Own Way

In addition to considering the five stages of grief when exploring the importance of talking about death and dying, an important point needs to be emphasized. Every person grieves in his or her own way. The manner in which one person comes to terms with the dying or death of a loved one can differ starkly from what other people experience. Simply, there is no “right way” to grieve dying and death.

Many people close in on themselves when experiencing grief. By that it is meant that they avoid talking with others about what they are experiencing. As is discussed in more detail in a moment, the grieving process can become more tenable and healthy if an individual experiencing grief talks to others. 

We Need to Talk About Death

Despite being the one thing in the universe we all have in common, a considerable number of people – likely a clear majority – do not like talking about dying and death, according to Psychology Today

Through talking about dying and death, we embrace life itself. For example, if you have a loved one who is in the process of dying, by candidly discussing death you likely address fears and apprehensions that are experienced by both a person at the end of life and loved ones who are part of that person’s life. Moreover, candidly discussing death and life’s finale can also tie into a positive celebration of a passing person’s life.

Talking About Death Comes in Many Forms

Talking about death comes in a variety of different forms. Discussions of death can occur between members of a family. The same holds true when it comes to conversations between friends and colleagues. Talking about death can also include rituals, including funerals and memorial services. 

If a person truly struggles with grief associated with dying and death, a more structured type of talking may be needed. This comes in a number of options that include grief support groups and individual grief counseling. There are counselors that specialize in working with clients dealing with grief. Moreover, there are grief counselors that focus on people who are grieving the death of a loved one. 

Candid Conversations About Dealing With a Loved One’s Remains

Another area in which a candid conversation on the subject of dying and death centers on what will happen to a loved one’s remains following death. In this day and age, there has been a growing movement towards more direct involvement by family and friends after the death of a loved one. As a result, talking about dying, death, and disposition of remains is another important area of discussion. A person can set out what he or she would like to have happen in the way of family involvement in the disposition of remains. In addition, family members can talk about what they are comfortable doing when it comes to becoming more involved in taking care of the remains following death. 

Benefits Associated With Talking About Dying and Death

There are a variety of specific benefits that can be derived from talking about dying and death. These benefits include:

  • Effectively working through the stages of grief – allowing a person the ability to address denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
  • Obtaining needed support for yourself when a loved one is dying or has died
  • Providing support to other people grieving over a loved who is dying or who has passed away
  • A tool to aid in working through and overcoming grief
  • Celebrating the life of a person who is dying or has died

In the final analysis, healthy grieving is advanced in part via occasions in which a person is able to engage in meaningful discourse – health talking – about dying and death. As with other aspects of the grief process, talking about dying and death must occur in a manner that is comfortable and appropriate to each individual.