7 Signs of a Death-Denying Culture

Reena Lazar, co-founder of Willow End-of-Life Education and Planning, writes that although death is the one thing in life we’re certain of, most people do everything in their power to avoid thinking about, talking about, let alone preparing for it. The vast majority of people don’t have any documents in place, because they live in a state of death denial, rather than death acceptance.

Reena typed “Signs of a death-denying culture” in ChatGPT and reported that this is what it spit back in a matter of seconds.

“A death-denying culture is one that is reluctant to acknowledge the reality of death and tends to avoid discussing it. Here are some signs of a death-denying culture:

  1. Lack of open discussions about death: In a death-denying culture, people avoid talking about death or pretend that it doesn’t exist. They may use euphemisms or other indirect language to refer to death.
  2. Overemphasis on youth and beauty: A culture that values youth and beauty above all else is often death-denying. This is because aging and death are seen as undesirable and something to be avoided.
  3. Medicalization of death: In a death-denying culture, death is often seen as a medical problem that can be solved or cured. This leads to a focus on prolonging life at all costs, even if it means sacrificing quality of life.
  4. Fear of aging: A culture that fears aging is often death-denying. This is because aging is seen as a reminder of mortality, and something to be avoided or hidden.
  5. Obsession with immortality: A culture that is obsessed with immortality, whether through technology or other means, is often death-denying. This is because it implies a refusal to accept the inevitability of death.
  6. Lack of rituals or ceremonies around death: A culture that lacks meaningful rituals or ceremonies around death is often death-denying. This can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection when dealing with death.
  7. Discomfort with grief and mourning: A culture that is uncomfortable with grief and mourning is often death-denying. This can lead to a lack of support for those who are grieving and make it difficult to process emotions around death.”

Like Willow, Cortes DeathCaring Collective was formed to bust the taboo of being with death, aging, and illness and help people explore the reality of their mortality in a heart-centered and inquiry-based way. We strive to make death truly a part of life in our community. Visit our website islanddeathcare.ca.

Submitted by Margaret Verschuur