Christmas End-of-Life Conversation Starters

Dec 23, 2019 | 0 comments

When you are together with your family over the holidays, this can be a great time to find out each person’s thoughts on end-of-life wishes. Yes, really. Here are some recommendations to help get the conversation started.

Chuckles Bites the Dust

Mary Tyler Moore Chuckles Funeral 2
Mary Tyler Moore in the “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode.

The “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1975 was rated “best TV episode” by TV Guide. It brings a humorous approach to discussing death and funeral planning. Get the DVD from Amazon or find it on your favorite online streaming service.

THE STORYLINE: Mary is appalled with everyone’s reaction when one of their station co-workers Chuckles the Clown is killed in a freak accident. He was the Grand Marshall at a circus parade, appearing as one of his TV characters, Peter Peanut. He is shelled by a rogue elephant. Murray in particular simply can’t stop making jokes about it. Mary thinks it’s all inappropriate, despite Lou’s claim that it’s just a way of dealing with death. They all attend the memorial service but it’s Mary who has trouble remaining solemn.

Watching this episode while you are gathered with family over the holidays is a great conversation starter. You’ll laugh a lot, and the last scene provides a door-opening opportunity to discuss your preferred disposition method.

The Conversation Project Tools

The Conversation Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. While 92% say that talking with loved ones about end-of-life wishes is important, only 32% have actually done so. They offer free conversation starter kits and seven podcasts you can listen to in the car on the way to Grandma’s house. Check out their resources here.

New Mexico Holiday Traditions

Christmas Eve in New Mexico cemeteries is magical! Watch this video to see what it looks like.

Christmas Luminaria Mortality Minute

Here in the American Southwest, there’s a tradition of visiting the graves of loved ones on Christmas Eve. In Catholic cemeteries, the night of December 24 is the busiest time of the year for visitors, rivaling even Memorial Day. Graves are decorated with various types of lights.

The most simple and beautiful lights are created by lunch sack-sized paper bags with sand weighting the bottom and anchoring a single votive candle. When hundreds of graves are lined with thousands of luminarias, the result is a peaceful, glowing field of love.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

A Good Goodbye