How to give a fun lecture on death and dying?


I have to give a 50 minute presentation along with 4 hour people in my class regarding the topic death and dying. It's mostly factual based so we will each explain different aspects. However, we need to include the class in some way. some people did a case study, role playing, but what are some things we can do to include the group regarding the topic, death and dying??

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,253 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

A so-called "fun" lecture on a subject as serious as Death needs to be approached carefully. Most People have a tendency to take such matters to Heart and apply those matters personally. So, it would be easy for the Lecturer to end up being the Cold-Hearted Perpetrator and Some in the Audience to be The Victims.

There are two Techniques in Humor which allow us to approach Serious Subjects in a Humorous way making it More Difficult for Some to feel Insulted or Perpetrated upon:

The First Technique is the Utilization of Absurdity- that which is Ridiculous, Ludicrous, Silly, or Outlandish. Anyone who could Negatively Identify with Absurdity would have to Work Hard to Relate.

The Second Technique to use in Having Fun with a Serious Subject is to make Yourself the Focal Point of the Humor. For example, we can Make or Have Fun with our own Personal Selves without anyone else taking it Negatively. It is We who get to say how a Subject affects Us. No one else can tell us how we feel toward Anything.

If we do direct our Humor at a Specific Individual, we need to make sure That Individual is Universally Distant from Everyone. For example, Alan Alda was playing a Character in a Woody Allen film and during an Interview, Mr. Alda noted that it is now Socially Acceptable to Have Fun with President Lincoln's Assasination. ("Inspite of the fact the evening ended in Disaster, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the Play?") However, Mr. Alda made note that a more recent Trauma, one which affects People who are still with us, is not Acceptable to have Fun With.

If you are looking for Specific Ideas, crunchytaco, I would encourage you to do a little research. One book which comes to mind that is Extremely Entertaining on the Subject of Death is Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Another Interesting Read on Death is Sherwin B. Nuland's How We Die.

I'm sure there are a Multitude of Entertaining Resources out there for you to pick and chose from.

Good Luck to You and Yours on Your Lecture, crunchytaco. I hope you let us know how it turns out.

I hope you leave them Dying.

Of Laughter.


Indy, LPN, LVN

1,444 Posts

Specializes in ICU, telemetry, LTAC. Has 5 years experience.

I don't think the subject matter itself is funny; however sometimes funny things happen. The audience or class can still be included whether the tone is serious or light.


9 Posts

I have never read How We Die. I've read Stiff though and that was great. I'll have to read How We Die... I think death has a great potential for humour. Making light of the inevitable can put people at ease. It can allow them to deflect whatever doubts they have about their own death or others, and receive the facts you'll be delivering in your presentation.

Perhaps if you wanted something spiritual to put in, you could find some quotes from Joseph Campbell. His book Hero with a Thousand Faces​ I would recommend to all people.

allnurses Guide

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

As an experienced Staff Development Specialist ... I wouldn't recommend going for "humor" or "fun." That is really risky.

Instead, I would aim for meaningful and helpful. Look for techniques to help the students feel more comfortable talking about death that don't bring a lot of risk that you will offend people. For example:

1. You might generate a group discussion of how death is portrayed in the movies on TV. (Brainstorm a list. Compare how those presentations of death reflect an accurate picture of death ... or differ from reality.)

2. You might share stories of death experiences that you have had as a nursing student and encourage others to do the same.

3. Maybe do a little survey (2 or 3) at the beginning of the class about their experiences, perceptions, or attitudes. You could then share the results of the survey as part of your class and use those results to generate group discussion.

allnurses Guide

NurseCard, ADN

2 Articles; 2,847 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

Or... have a group skit. Pretend you're at an old lady's funeral, and

someone, a man, gets up to sing.... horribly. You and the two women

next to you are biting your tongues and kicking each other to keep from

busting out laughing.

That's what happened at my great-grandmother's funeral, anyway.

She would have gotten a kick out of it; she was a funny lady.