We were tempted to begin this post by saying “this blog post is sponsored by Audible”…but we decided it would be in poor taste. We are huge podcast fans at TalkDeath. Anything from comedy to history to the outright weird. We have already covered some of our favorite movies and some of our favorite photo documentaries and so we figured, why not podcasts?
Death consciousness is on the rise in North America and this is best seen through popular culture and media. Some of the best and biggest podcasts are dedicating their time and research into topics surrounding death and dying and we are pretty ok with that! Here is our list of the best podcast episodes about death and dying:
1. Radiolab – When Am I Dead
An hour long podcast, divided into 4 sections. In the first section, a tells us the story of physician Duncan MacDougall ambitious 1907 experiment to discover the weight of the soul. Part 2 is a reading from one of our favorite books, Sum: 40 Tales From the Afterlife by David Eagleman, Read by actor Jeffrey Tambor, this short story is incredible! In part 3 author and researcher Gary Greenberg and John Troyer examine questions about life and death. Specifically, when do we actually die and what physiologically happens at that moment? In part 4…can the dead play tennis?
2. Hardcore History- Ghost of the Ostfront Series
This show is a doozy. Let’s just get this over with: this 4 part series is about 5 1/2 hours long. It is worth every single second however. Sadly, this podcast isn’t free but it is worth the $1 you’ll pay for it. Dan Carlin covers, in detail, the conflict on the Eastern front between the Germans and the Soviet Union in the Second World War. The show opens with Carlin walking the listener through the field of bones that can still be found in modern Russia, evidence of the ultimate brutality of this conflict. In the West we rarely talk about the battle for Stalingrad or the Eastern front, yet the losses in the West pale in comparison.
3. Radiolab – After life
This hour: Radiolab stares down the very moment of passing, and speculates about what may lie beyond. This Radiolab episode is full of incredible guests including Ken Baldwin, Paul Broks, David Eagleman, Gary Greenberg, Adrian Owen, Lee Silver, Jeffrey Tambor, John Troyer and Emily Voigt. It asks why we die, what happens when we die, what happens in the moment that we slip from life to death and what can we expect afterwards. One of their best episodes ever.
4. This American Life – Life After Death
Stories of people haunted by guilt over their role in others’ deaths, even when everyone agrees they’re blameless. This American Life has been at the forefront of the podcasting world. They are a monolith and each episode ripples into the universe, touching everything it is involved with and anyone who listens. This is very much so the case with any episode dealing with death and dying. In this 2 Act episode, we have one individual recounting what it’s like to live with being the accidental cause of someone’s death and one veteran’s struggle to return to being the person he was before the war.
5. This American Life – Business of Death
Like Radiolab, it is hard to find just one episode from the This American Life archive that encapsulates death in all its nuances. This episode begins with a poem by Allen Ginsberg and ends with a story about the craziest jobs within the world of death, In between we find satirist David Sedaris, a reading by Thomas Lynch on his book about undertakers and much more. An episode full of surprises that will change your perspectives on death and dying.
6. CBC Ideas – Death Becomes us
This CBC Ideas podcast gets to heart of what it is we do at Qeepr. For those who may not know, CBC is the Canadian public broadcaster, similar in many ways to NPR in the United States. Death Becomes Us traces the history of our relationship to death and how during the 19th and 20th centuries, we began to push death away from us at a physical and emotional level. With the rise of Death Cafe’s and other forms of death awareness, death once again becomes us, it enters into our consciousness. A really good episode!
7. Fresh Air – A Mortician Talks Openly About Death, And Wants You To, Too
We’ve featured Caitlin Doughty on our blog in the past but this episode of Fresh Air is really…refreshing. Talking about death isn’t easy, but mortician Caitlin Doughty is trying to reform how we think about the deaths of loved ones — and prepare for our own. Caitlin talks about her new book, her romanticization of working in crematorium and how that compared to the reality of the work, the emotional impact of working with the dead and the industry in general. It is a great 30min and any fan of both Caitlin Doughty an Terry Gross will really appreciate it!
Leave your suggestions for other podcasts in our comments section below!