No One Wants to Talk About Death

By Lisa West

Including me—and I work in the death care industry. The topic of death is not the standard dinner table conversation most families want to have, unless they have had a very recent loss. Then it is sometimes all they talk about.

Yes, talking about death is still a big taboo, so to speak. After all, if you talk about death, then that means it could actually happen. Needless to say, it is going to happen. No one escapes it.

I’m the first to tell you that three years ago I avoided the topic of death and funerals myself. Then I changed careers and began working for a funeral home, East Lawn Memorial Parks, Mortuaries, and Crematory. I can now tell you that I honestly appreciate a good conversation about death. I’m no longer afraid to talk about it because I’m surrounded by it every day.

I also find other people want to talk about it more than I ever realized. Once I tell people where I work, they immediately have a dozen questions. Typically, these are the two most frequently asked questions: “Is it sad?” “Is it scary?”

I can answer firmly with a resounding “No” to each. Some deaths can be sad, no doubt. But most funerals themselves are very uplifting. Some choose the term “Celebration of Life” instead of funeral, and it does turn out to be a celebration.

There’s always music and family members coming together who haven’t seen each other in years, comforting and hugging each other. There are both happy and sad tears. Reunions and storytelling and celebrations of lives lived to their fullest. There is often a lot of laughing as memories are shared of fun times.

To the other question, no, it’s not scary either—it’s much the same atmosphere as I imagine working in a hospital or other medical facility might be. I actually consider it a somewhat sacred place. I look at every decedent as if they were my own grandparent or loved one. And everyone I work with feels the same. They are professional and extremely caring.

So, if you have had a question you have always wanted to ask about death or the death care industry, please contact me at

Lisa West is the community outreach director for East Lawn and her column appears monthly. You can reach her at or (916)732-2020. For previous articles, please visit

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