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Death Over Dinner

In under 3 years has inspired 1/2 a million people to break bread and discuss end life. Total budget: $11,000.

Photo of Michael Hebb
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In just two years Death Over Dinner has provided the framework and inspiration for over 100,000 dinners in 30 countries.  Our simple model has powerfully impacted individual families and larger communities; catalyzing end of life conversations and motivating individuals to complete living wills and advance care directives. Each dinner includes invitation material, pre-dinner homework assignments, a comprehensive framework for the dinner discussion, and a clear set of follow-up steps. This May we launch an Australian version of DOD in partnership with and support from the Australian government and dozens of hospitals, universities, and medical organizations down under. We are currently developing similar web platforms in Japan and Mexico, and have begun work on a Jewish Edition, a Doctors and Nurses Edition, and a new project focused on Alzheimer’s patients and families. was developed at the University of Washington by Michael Hebb, Angel Grant, and the design firm Civilization. 

To whet the appetite for this conversation, Deathoverdinner and The Conversation Project created an e-cookbook, “The Endless Table” recipes from departed loved ones. Famous chefs and food writers like Tom Colicchio, Ina Garten, Tim Ferriss, Amanda Hesser, Ben Ford, José Andrés, Michel Nischan and many more have donated a recipe in honor of a loved one, along with a personal story about why the dish they chose is personally meaningful. Proceeds of the e-cookbook will benefit both public engagement campaigns, The Conversation Project and Death Over Dinner. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

We would love to expand the scope of our project. The response so far has been overwhelming. We have seen our simple website impact the way families and entire communities discuss and plan for end of life. We want to increase death literacy on a global level, and deepen the digital experience of DOD, add a mobile app, and expand to dozens of countries in the next 5 years.


Michael Hebb and Angel Grant


Join the conversation:

Photo of Amy Holliday

I'd love if you had a chance to take a look at my contribution, The 12 Month Mortality Calendar, and provide any reactions, positive or negative, to help prototype/test putting the thought into action and adjust my entry/submission before the OpenIDEO Refinement Phase ends. I realize I am contacting you late in the game, but my family has been plowing through stages of mourning recently and my ability to work on this project has been haphazard. Slow but steady wins the race and I will definitely be continuing this challenge even if I don't move to the next phase officially, so I appreciate any input, even after the Refinement Phase for OpenIDEO ends.
I believe incorporating a annual calendar of fun, community, Death Over Dinner events, into a calendar of annual "continuing education" events at physician offices, hospitals and nursing homes (whose quality measure reporting is tied to quality advance care planning) is a win-win-win. Any input from you or your colleagues to help prototype a 12 Month Mortality Calendar would help us get one step closer to re-imagining the end-of-life experience for our communities.
Thank you and thank you again! :) 

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