Top 10 Signs of Culture Change

This is not your average Buzzfeed list. No celebrities below. But nevertheless a few hats and horns are warranted because 2014 was the year when Americans finally began breaking the code of silence about end-of-life conversations.

When The Conversation Project was founded, the media was full of static about "death panels."  It was still taboo to talk about how we wanted to live at the end of life---the care we wanted, the care we didn't want.

We and many others believed it was the most important conversation America wasn't having. It was important to change the culture, to change the cultural norm, that is, from not talking about dying to talking about it.

Now, with a small ta-da, we say things are truly changing.  We hereby offer the Top Ten Signs of Culture Change in 2014.

Top 10 Signs of Culture Change
  1. The Institute of Medicine releases its report, "Dying in America", that pushes the importance of honoring preferences on the public agenda.
  2. Atul Gawande's book, "Being Mortal" on aging and end of life rises to best seller list and stays there.
  3. The Conversation Project logs its 250,000 website visitor and the Conversation Starter Kit spreads from there to AARP, United Health Care, and even Consumer Reports.
  4. "The Fault in Our Stars" proves that yes, you can so do a movie about dying and earns a stunning $48.2 million the first weekend.
  5. Massachusetts rules that doctors must have conversations about advance planning with terminally ill patients.
  6. More than 140 organizations in 35 states join The Conversation Project's grassroots initiative to make their communities Conversation Ready.
  7. Roz Chast's cartoon book, asking the provocative and humorous question, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" is named one of the Top Ten Books of the year by the New York Times.
  8. Brittany Maynard's illness and death provokes a national debate.
  9. The Writers Guilds East and West invite The Conversation Project and UCLA's Global Media Center for Social Impact to engage screenwriters for scripts to "Die Well or Die Trying."
  10.  The American Medical Association recommends reimbursement to doctors for holding conversations.

So much for 2014's Top Ten. We welcome you to add to the list.

We believe that next year will be the proverbial tipping point. It kicks off with the national dinner party called "Death over Dinner." Learn more and pick a date for your own dinner here.

Join us, raise a glass, tell a story, have a conversation and change the culture. Happy New Year!


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