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What do you want at the end of your life? Have you talked with loved ones?

tanya hanson leans against a tree
Tanya Hanson is a death educator.

Death doula Tanya Hanson discusses her work in the death field. Do you have ideas about how you want to die?

There’s a 100% chance you are going to die.

But that doesn’t make it easy to talk about. Death is Tanya Hanson’s specialty. As a death doula, she works with people to demystify the process we will all experience.

Hanson talked with Heidi Holtan and John Bauer on the Friday, March 17, KAXE Morning Show. Hanson stressed the importance of talking about how you want to die. She calls these tender conversations. These conversations are ongoing and always changing, but as Hanson put it, “It can lead to some lovely beautiful things.”

"There's a big misconception that if you talk about death, it will come."
Tanya Hanson, death educator

Back to Basics is a sustainable living event in Pine River MN sponsored by Happy Dancing Turtle on Saturday, February 11th.

“People are curious, “ Hanson said. “It isn’t something that feels right to bring up at coffee or at the post office.” But starting small and continuing the conversation throughout life can take some of the fear away.

Hanson said her grandchildren recently said, “Grandma, I don’t want you to die and go to heaven.” Hanson responded, “Grandma’s not planning on going anywhere today, but when I do die just know I was always love you.”

This is different from telling a child that you won’t die.

"There's a big misconception that if you talk about death, it will come."

But by talking to loved ones or writing own your wishes, you actually are providing a service for the people you leave behind. Hanson suggested starting with asking yourself about your values. Who do you want to be around you when you are dying? Thinking about this can lead you to put value to the relationships in your life.

During the live Zoom conversation, Bauer said some of the things funeral homes sell are off-putting. After losing his daughter to suicide, Bauer said for him, it didn't feel right to have things like necklaces with ashes intended to keep loved ones close to the heart.

Hanson said that reaction is OK, as are those of people who find comfort in such memorabilia.

“For some, that might be just what they need to be reminded of how tender and caring their relationship was," she said.

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