What is the Death Positive Movement?

 We'll give you hint- it doesn't happen in creepy church basements over skeletons and ouija boards. 

What is the Death Positive Movement?

Some of us think of it often, others none at all. Sometimes we joke about it, other times fear it. No matter your approach or point of view, the fact remains: we will all inevitably die. It is literally the one thing we all have in common. And, on top of that, we will have to bear witness to the deaths of those around us. Yet, in spite of this irrefutable fact, Western culture doesn't seem to be able to talk about the big "it." Instead of allowing this commonality to bring us together, it often alienates us from each other. This is where the Death Positive movement comes in.

It is allude to in popular culture, through commercials, music, and other types of media. It is the subject of films and novels, and even television series. But even though we are in many ways surrounded by representations of death and grief, its presence and role in our own lives is something many feel afraid or uncomfortable speaking about. It is this internal and societal conundrum that many of us experience that is the focus of the "Death Positive" Movement.

 More importantly, discussing death and dying actually enables us to think about our own immediate lives. 


The Death Positive (or Death Positivity) Movement is represented by the general (and growing) movement toward opening platforms for discussion about the inevitability of death and dying. The movement focuses on the importance of encouraging open discussions on the reality of both our own death, and the death of others. This includes the creation of platforms and spaces where such discussions can transpire in a comfortable, honest, open, and curious environment; where individuals may come together with different perspectives and exchange them with one another.

It also has a very practical goal of teaching us how to speak to others (i.e. our parents and partners) about their end-of-life wishes, as well as our own. The hope is that death will become de-mystified, and that as a result, society (and the individuals that comprise it) will be able to prepare for death and the grief that often follows. More importantly, discussing death and dying actually enables us to think about our own immediate lives. It encourages us to lead the life we want to live, and appreciate the little things.

 The hope is that death will become de-mystified. 


You may be wondering where it is that these death positive discussions take place? How can you become involved? We'll give you hint- it doesn't happen in mortuaries or creepy church basements over skeletons and ouija boards. There are in fact a number of platforms- both online and in physical spaces- where death positive discussions take place on a regular basis.

One of the most widely and regularly practiced organized series of discussions on death and dying are known as Death Cafés, and occur all over the world. First established in 2004 by Swiss social anthropologist, Bernard Cretan, with the intention of breaking the taboo surrounding discussing death, they have since been held in cities all over the world. At a Death Café people will gather over coffee and treats to discuss death, dying, and experiences of grief.

Much of this discussion enables the participants to understand what is most important in their lives, allowing them to focus on these positive elements to live more fully and happily. They are often held in different locations throughout a given city, but always with the intention of creating comfortable spaces to discuss personal experiences and questions about death, dying, grief, and all that's in between.

We highly recommend taking part in a Death Cafe in your area!

Posted by TalkDeath

  1. […] will to master death goes hand-in-hand with the ways in which we avoid death. But as those in the Death Positive movement have tried to argue, death acceptance can bring us a long way towards fulfillment in life, […]


  2. […] the way we have sanitized death through funeral practices and disposition. But as those in the Death Positive movement argue, death acceptance can bring us a long way towards fulfillment in life, and even […]


  3. I believe, whether conscious or unconscious, our society, especially our financial and retail business sector such as advertising and PR, have an interest in diverting our interests from the “big” issues.
    People focused on always buying things to satisfy their deep loneliness and lack of sustaining human contact, are diverted from facing those issues by constantly spending.


  4. I find the idea of “death positivity” patronizing. People see death and dying in life all of the time. We see it on tv. Someone buries their friends and loved ones almost every second of everyday in this world. I myself had to bury my best friend when he was only 33 years old, back in 2003. I deal with death everyday, only not in a professional sense.

    What DP’ers want is actually the opposite of what they claim. To me, their ideas actually create a strange dissonance between the idea of death versus the actuality of death.

    I feel that they also forget one thing – mourning. Mourning loss is why people are negative about death; it’s about missing those we love, not the burials or cremation.

    I do not need a funeral director preaching to me about how to view death. It is a mystery and its inevitability will always create a shadow on humanity. And no matter where you are in the world, it is the missing of people that hurts, not the burial process.


    1. Could you elaborate further on “What DP’ers want is actually the opposite of what they claim. To me, their ideas actually create a strange dissonance between the idea of death versus the actuality of death.” I have sometimes wondered if the title “death positive” is misleading or outright vulgar to some.

      To be open, I consider myself a Death Positive as I strive to embrace grief, death, and remain connected to my own mortality and the gift this brings. I recently tended to two sick family members who died from cancer, and then my mother who took gravely ill. I do not feel I could have held both my overwhelming grief and my need to be fully present and functional (medical discussions, DNRs etc) without having been a part of this movement.

      I’d like to understand more of where you are coming from and what the movement lacks for you if you are willing to share.


  5. […] community would be the people to police it. But, thinking carefully about the recent lessons of the good death movement regarding the re-thinking of norms and removing the taboos around death, I wonder if the taboo […]


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