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December 10 2012

Thirty Days Of Intent - Death and Dying Dinner

Category:  Thirty Days Of Intent

Natalie and Iman join Laurel Lewis, Deepak Chopra, Mallika Chopra and friends for a “Death and Dying Dinner.” We interviewed Laurel on the significance of these dinners. Click here to read Part 1 of Laurel’s interview, on the importance of contemplating death.

The Chopra Well: The notion of a “death and dying dinner” is pretty unique! Most people will do anything they can NOT to think about death. Why do you think that is?

Laurel Lewis: Most people choose not to focus on end of life issues, certainly not their own. Our culture does not encourage this discussion. We have been conditioned not to consider death and dying. We try so desperately to avoid all things which we believe will cause us discomfort. Death certainly falls into that category. What people don’t realize is that by moving through the discomfort of facing their fears they actually free up some life force which can be used to fuel their present day experience. It takes courage, curiosity and willingness to examine one’s own end.

We all know, death is coming. It’s just a matter of time. I’m amazed that we don’t teach courses on death and dying in elementary school! We prepare for everything we want to succeed in in life. Having a peaceful death seems like something we should be preparing ourselves for with more discipline and interest. Death somehow did not make the list of things in which one can succeed at in life. A bit ironic, I know, but I aim to change that.

CW: So once you introduce people to the idea of a death and dying dinner, how do they react? And how does the event usually go over?

LL: When I talk about the death and dying dinner party people are generally either very curious or completely uninterested. I have not found too many people in the middle. Those who have a negative reaction to this themed dinner party are simply not ready to face this topic for whatever reason. I respect that. I am content knowing that this venue will be available to them when and if they would like to discover more about death and dying.

People who are interested think it’s a great, novel idea. They wonder what we talk about, how many people show up, what do they have to talk about, what qualifies them to attend and then they want to know when the next dinner is. These dinners have been ongoing monthly for over 2 years now. Hundreds of people have shown up not really knowing what they were getting into. People who show up with a bit of anxiety or fear always leave feeling more relaxed around the topic. They seem to leave offering words like: inspired, calm, grateful, content, connected, respected, surprised, elated, full and open.

No two dinners are the same, because the mix of people is different for every dinner. These dinners are for anyone interested to explore any aspect of death and dying in an intimate, safe, respectful place.

Read the full article at

This video about Death and Dying is the courtesy of The Chopra Well.

Top comments

  • This will be a must share, as a Hospice volunteer I am amazed at how uncomfortable people still are discussing death and how relieved they are when someone is willing to allow the conversations that express thier true feelings...Thanks for posting!

    Sharon Duquette // 2012-12-10 21:10:31 // //
  • Incredible!

    Tondy Seaton // 2012-12-10 21:04:41 // //



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All comments

  • The necessity of death is paramount in life. We all hear live every day as if it's your last. Simple and true...

    Matthew Lees // 2012-12-18 16:42:15 // //
  • You are a hero of modern times. Such a great revelation!

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 14:08:29 // //
  • La muerte, sólo otro paso a experimentar!

    Carmen Victoria Morales Anistro // 2012-12-18 11:11:02 // //
  • LOVE YOU !

    Khalid Karam // 2012-12-18 02:27:53 // //
  • Amy Dubinsky..there are no words...I simply bow to you journey and the sacredness of you.

    Julia Hayes // 2012-12-17 23:22:44 // //
  • Amy Dubinsky I am so very sorry for your loss. I will pray for you.

    Diana MacGillivary Bruso // 2012-12-17 22:36:59 // //
  • I look forward to death since my son took his life 5 years ago. Everything is in place

    Amy Dunbinsky // 2012-12-17 22:01:28 // //
  • Very well said Julia.

    Jaspina Mann // 2012-12-17 21:40:11 // //
  • Absolutely. I think we can learn so much from watching and supporting a loved one on their death bed. It's a sad but profound experience if you allow it to be

    Jaspina Mann // 2012-12-17 21:39:15 // //
  • Thank you so much for this! 5 years ago I was forced to stand on the edge of Life staring into Death that was cloaked in Cancer craving my 4 year old daughter. My daughter, Aria, is a very lucky survivor. Her Leukemia, only a handful of decades ago, was universally fatal. It is impossible to ignore that her survivorship is entirely dependent upon the giants who perished before her enduring the experimental treatments that would one day save her. There isn't a moment that I don't feel immense gratitude for her life...for my life...for Life in general. I have learned with profound depth that to honor the dead we must learn to better Live. To do that we must be fearless in acknowledging Death's presence in all of life not as a separate entity but a partner. The experience has shifted me so completely that I have dedicated myself as a volunteer with Hospice. I can't say I'm grateful for having had the experience. Rather I embrace that it IS and like a trusting rock star falling into a mosh pit, I too, have surrendered to this great messy Mystery.

    Julia Hayes // 2012-12-17 21:19:53 // //
  • For real.

    Suzanne Quigley-Carbajal // 2012-12-17 21:17:40 // //
  • I've been working on in making peace with this unavoidable & harsh reality for a while now.

    Hagere Mesfin // 2012-12-17 20:49:38 // //
  • I needed this now. My father passed on the 9th. He was very ill with Alzheimer's, and could barely move. The night of his death, he raised his arms wide open and began laughing. A few hours later, he was gone from the physical world. I miss him!!!

    Nicole Nahas // 2012-12-17 20:49:23 // //
  • I remember you mentioning in an Oprah interview that you meditated on your own death. I've done this since then and it is life affirming. Thanks.

    Romy Macias // 2012-12-17 20:44:31 // //
  • Just "liked" your page, just read this quote & made plans to make it the next quote I share

    Mary Tilton // 2012-12-17 20:44:15 // //
  • I found it really inspiring ...

    Renée Marcoux // 2012-12-17 20:43:46 // //
  • Thank you for that very powerful comment! We are so glad this video helped. Blessings to you and your patient.

    // 2012-12-12 17:56:45 // //
  • To add to that, with Suicide parents tend to feel they are responsible, feeling there was something they could have done differently. Understanding as a family that EVERY soul, including children, choose how to experience this world. So despite our best efforts... and we have to acknowledge we did our best PERIOD! One Love One Heart.

    Njeri Thelwell
    // 2012-12-12 14:02:37 // //
  • I greatly appreciate this series of videos. This video, in particular, has helped me figure out how to best help a patient I am seeing for therapy. She experienced a near death experience earlier in the year and due that experience is in a constant state of fear of dying and being alone. She kept telling me throughout the session that she fear dying and doesn`t want to die. I wasn`t quite sure what to tell her in the moment, but now know that I must encourage her to talk about her fear. Thank u!

    // 2012-12-12 01:58:02 // //
  • We are so sorry to hear of your family`s loss - what a terrible thing to go through. We do have some resources on the channel for dealing with loss and grief and coming to terms with death. Look in the "Ask Deepak" and "Spiritual Solutions" series. It`s so important, too, that you are all able to offer one another love and support through this healing process, and especially around the holiday season. Be well.

    // 2012-12-11 18:04:28 // //
  • My Moms hospice nurse was named Angel. She was so wonderful!

    // 2012-12-11 12:20:09 // //
  • people actually believe that anything real dies..

    Steve Wein // 2012-12-11 10:23:59 // //
  • We die as we have lived... one is but a reflection of the other...

    Debbie Campbell // 2012-12-11 08:57:13 // //
  • Love this idea, saw 4 in my family leave...just recently my Mother, it was interesting to watch, she had no fear...we fear the unknown, time to face our fears or remember what it is like...I read that most people don't fear death they fear how they are going to die!

    Diane Belair // 2012-12-11 07:00:15 // //
  • Profound and a 'must' discussion. We have just launched a funeral business in Uk London. This content has been invaluable to us and the way we interact with our families. Thank You. In the UK, we have started a movement called Dealth Cafe - started by John Underwood, a space for people to have a open conversation around death & dying.

    Hasina Zaman // 2012-12-11 05:45:26 // //
  • A family member committed suicide in Oct. suffering from severe depression. It really was not a surprise. Although I feel he is at peace (I hope) it is challenging to deal with, especially for his parents and 90 year old grandmother. Any advice would be helpful...

    Patricia Milland
    // 2012-12-11 01:44:32 // //
  • Beautiful video, thank you for sharing!

    Patty Batallas Guerrero // 2012-12-10 23:27:59 // //
  • I must not be "most people." lol I think about what it will be like, and I know that I will be happy when I get to the next phase.

    Kristina Thorson // 2012-12-10 21:49:00 // //
  • thanks for the beautiful video

    Ayaz Uqam // 2012-12-10 21:45:22 // //
  • <3

    Faten Soussi // 2012-12-10 21:37:08 // //
  • Death is only a step in life. Accept your life in all its shimmering facets, from beginning to end.

    Eric Herman // 2012-12-10 21:20:37 // //
  • Amen <3

    Maggie Smith // 2012-12-10 21:19:55 // //
  • I think this is nice.

    Nancy Lieber // 2012-12-10 21:19:39 // //
  • I had a discussion with a friend just yesterday about death... She is deathly (forgive the pun) afraid of dying and I have no fear... I never worry about what I cant change or have any control over...

    Kim Panfile // 2012-12-10 21:17:04 // //
  • Have you heard of any near death experiences in the US lately? Why not?

    Michael Ferguson // 2012-12-10 21:15:43 // //
  • This will be a must share, as a Hospice volunteer I am amazed at how uncomfortable people still are discussing death and how relieved they are when someone is willing to allow the conversations that express thier true feelings...Thanks for posting!

    Sharon Duquette // 2012-12-10 21:10:31 // //
  • Incredible!

    Tondy Seaton // 2012-12-10 21:04:41 // //
  • if u want to die well live well...wathever else happens is ok!

    // 2012-12-07 00:29:05 // //
  • thanks for make your science, public.

    David del Rio Macias
    // 2012-12-06 20:58:58 // //
  • i like all things chopra says but if i can`t understand easy... finally i dont see your videos. que soy español hombre

    David del Rio Macias
    // 2012-12-06 20:56:36 // //
  • it would be good and much better if the video would have spanish subtitles.

    David del Rio Macias
    // 2012-12-06 20:53:59 // //
  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. We`re so sorry to hear of your loss. It`s such a blessing you`re open to discussing this topic - you never know if someone might be going through something similar. And just so you know, Laurel still regularly hosts these dinners! Click on the link to her website in the video description for more information. Be well.

    // 2012-12-06 18:12:43 // //
  • Remember we are limited by language, concepts and the body`s several sense perceptions. I think we`re only aware of the 3rd dimension with an instrument of 3 dimensions. To access other dimensions and forms of perception we can use the meditative exercises and explore our silence to access new forms of perceiving.

    // 2012-12-06 17:30:23 // //
  • yeah, i don`t know what the deal is with the West and some of society`s so-called `taboos` on the talk of death. Seems like Eastern religions prepare ppl so well. i grew up secular, and what helped me the most to deal with coping with death and calamities and suffering has been Tao Te Ching, Bagavad(sp) Gita, Yoga, Upanishads, and Buddhist wisdom in general, oh and "Le Petit Prince" helped me too w my father`s passing

    // 2012-12-06 16:30:45 // //
  • I wish I had had participated in a dinner like this long ago.I am Mallika`s age,my father passed away exactly 3 yrs on 07 Dec. I wasn`t prepared & in denial. It floored me. Took us all by surprise.Thank G-d not to much suffering for him.//when i was 6 i lost my sister to a motorcycle accident,but i was too young to understand what happened. It devastated my dad & other sister a lot. Coma for 6 months. In France, my dad consulted many doctors, then they pulled the plug.i have no opinions on that

    // 2012-12-06 16:23:40 // //
  • Only the body is afraid of death...Its a survival mechanism that humans are learning to evolve beyond!

    Anthony M
    // 2012-12-06 05:37:28 // //
  • Definitely - thank you for sharing! We`re so glad to hear you had such a positive experience with the hospice nurse. They do amazing work.

    // 2012-12-05 17:54:46 // //
  • Thank you so much for sharing that story. We are so sorry for your loss. Hospice is such an asset we have these days and can help so much during a person`s passing. We`re so glad you felt inspired by this video - thank you for commenting!

    // 2012-12-05 17:53:35 // //
  • Thank you so much for sharing that...We definitely agree that it`s important these kinds of topics are discussed openly and thoughtfully.

    // 2012-12-05 17:49:10 // //
  • Natalie didn`t want to share and simultaneously put Iman`s business out there. Why doesn`t she open up? You see that horse from week 4 tried to warn us....

    // 2012-12-05 07:46:07 // //
  • Thankyou for this beautiful video..thankyou Dr.Deepak, you are an inspiration.

    // 2012-12-05 05:55:10 // //
  • Much praise to everyone involved in hospice. Hospice helps not only with emotional support, but also with practical issues and a dignified and informed choice of treatments and medications. When my father was diagnosed, it was a hospice nurse who got our entire family comfortable enough to deal with the fact of death, so we could deal with it rather than merely avoid the discomfort of talking about it. I think we live life more fully if we don`t avoid the topic of death.

    // 2012-12-05 05:09:30 // //
  • i really love this webseries. 

    // 2012-12-05 04:41:28 // //
  • I too am close to death with my mom`s passing in 2008. I do not support chemotherapy, but do support Burzinski`s approach, but I am glad mom had the ability to manage pain while in hospice. I do not think pain should be a part of death or dying and the patient should be given dignity. I agree completely with what Deepak says and I have found myself inspired even more. Everything is beautiful, and everything is connected.

    // 2012-12-05 04:01:51 // //
  • What is with Deepak`s shirt? lol.

    Charlotte Stiles
    // 2012-12-05 03:45:53 // //
  • Dang Natalie why you gotta put Iman on blast? LOL

    // 2012-12-05 03:12:40 // //
  • Where did Deepak get his shirt? 

    // 2012-12-05 02:01:09 // //
  • Nice shirt Deepak :) (Kinda surprised me.) In my Ethics class we are discussing assisted suicide and euthanasia. Its got me thinking about what happens to awareness once there is nothing to be aware of. I hear of people who have experienced awareness outside of the thinking mind and say that It can be experienced. They say that they are vast space. So my big question to you is if my experience of awareness is not produced in the brain then why am I only aware of things through my brain.

    // 2012-12-05 01:58:46 // //
  • Absolutely fantastic to hear people talking about this subject openly. From the time I was a kid no one would ever confront this subject like this without being silenced in their own fear or pounding dogmatic belief systems in my head.

    // 2012-12-05 01:58:34 // //
  • A sensitive subject handled sensitively. Thank you.

    // 2012-12-05 00:48:55 // //