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News and Events | Death is Not a Dirty Word – Let’s Talk About It!

Death is Not a Dirty Word
– Let’s Talk About It!

Brad Lichtenstein, ND, introduces monthly Death Cafes to Bastyr Center for Natural Health starting April 23.

Join Bastyr Center faculty Brad Lichtenstein, ND, to drink tea, eat cake and talk about death.

America, it’s time for a reality check about death. The baby boomers aren’t getting any younger, and — dare we say it — some of them will even die soon.

And so will you.

“Every one of us has a terminal illness called life,” says Brad Lichtenstein, ND, who wants to help people more bravely broach the subject through a monthly Death Cafe series that starts Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

“We have a culture of denial. That’s why researchers say we’re the most overweight, indebted and medicated society on the planet.”

It might sound like a grim subject for a gathering, but Death Cafes actually have been popping up around the globe, offering a chance for you to take a more light-hearted approach to a subject often considered taboo.

“This is a serious conversation, but it’s not to be taken seriously,” Dr. Lichtenstein says. “Some of the people I’ve met who have the best spirit are those who are confronting death and can laugh.”

And with more than 500 hospice meditations under his belt, he would know.

“Do You Want to Die at Peace?”

Dr. Lichtenstein, who supervises students at biofeedback counseling shifts at Bastyr Center, is organizing these Death Cafes through the Bastyr University Center for Mind, Body, Spirit and Nature.

“Almost everyone who is a general practitioner will say that it takes a heart attack or some other dramatic event to get patients to change their lives,” Dr. Lichtenstein says. “My argument is, why wait?”

Most of the sessions will be fairly open-ended, giving you the opportunity to talk about the details of death that matter most to you. But he plans to pose questions at the beginning to help get the conversation going, and offer reading lists to keep you engaged beyond the Death Cafes.

Dr. Lichtenstein also hopes to dedicate one session to advance health care directives, or living wills.

“Do you want to die at peace?” he asks. “What do you want to do to set that up?

“We need to be aware of what may happen to ensure we die closer to the way we’d like. Seventy to 75 percent of people still die hooked up to machines, even though 80 to 90 percent say they want to die at home.”

Death Cafe Schedule

Death Cafes at Bastyr Center for Natural Health are free and open to the public, and will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on the following dates:

  • April 23
  • May 28
  • June 25
  • September 17
  • October 22
  • November 19
  • December 17

Dr. Lichtenstein hopes to see diversity among participants, as long as they are able to engage in respectful discourse and are willing to expand their concepts and accept various opinions.

“These really are open to anyone willing to take an honest look at how they’re living in the world, and who also want to get some ideas about caring for people who are dying.”

Beyond his extensive experience in hospice care, Dr. Lichtenstein also has taught classes on death and dying at Bastyr University, including Counseling and Chronic Pain and Terminal Illness; and Myth, Ritual and Healing. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” he says, adding that people have been asking him to facilitate similar conversations for years.

“My whole approach in life is really existential care,” he says. “What gives you purpose in life, how are you living?”

Drink Tea, Eat Cake, Talk About Death

To add to the light-hearted approach of the often heavy-hearted subject, Bastyr Center plans to stick with the international Death Cafe theme that states: “At Death Cafes people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death.”

Cake will be provided by nutrition students from Bastyr University, along with Choice Organic Wellness Teas, which were formulated by a master herbalist at the University. All we ask you to bring is an open mind.


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