A program that was launched in 2012, Death Over Dinner has encouraged tens of thousands of people in the United States and abroad to set the table and engage in thoughtful and meaningful conversations about the end of life. What started as a class in the Communication Leadership program, led by visiting fellow Michael Hebb and associate director Scott Macklin, has turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
Joining in the success, the local Seattle radio station KUOW wanted to get involved. Host Ross Reynolds invited four thought-provokers to his dinner table: Seattle counselor and death doula Dr. Cat Saunders, palliative care physician Dr. Greg Vandekieft, hospital chaplain Trudy James, and oncologist and palliative care physician Dr. Anthony Black.
They discussed conversations that should be happening between doctors and patients, doctors with themselves, and families with each other concerning end of life – while enjoying a meal prepared by chefs Debi and Hayden Smissen. Hayden designed the menu while his own father was dying, each course inspired by the four seasons.
In the past few months, and using Death Over Dinner as a blueprint, Hebb, Communication Leadership and others have encouraged a new conversation about drugs and addiction. (View this informative presentation by Comm Lead student, Molly O’Donnell). Drugsoverdinner.org launches on April 20, and during the week of May 1 they plan to inspire 10,000 dinners to happen around the world.
“America needs to reframe its conversation (policy, treatment models, attitude) about drugs and addiction – the war on drugs has been a profound failure, but what do we do now?”