What is a Death Café?
If I never talk about the "D-word" it will never happen to me.
Cafe sounds good - coffee, tea and goodies...I am in for that. But Death is not something I want to talk about. If we avoid talking about it then it should stay clear from us??? Right???
Well, that is clearly not true.
We plan and talk about so many other events in our lives from Birth to Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, Christmas, Easter, Halloween and, now a day, there seems to be a special day that recognizes pretty much everything except Death!!! Yes, Death!
Let's face it, we do not even want to say a person has died. We use statements like 'passed on,' 'passed away,' we 'lost them'. It's very confusing. Why is it that we make a big deal after people die with a funeral, but we cannot talk about it?
That is where Death Cafe comes in - a safe, comfortable space where we can talk, listen and share stories about death. It is not a place for counselling, we will not be selling you anything and there is no set agenda. There might be tears, but often there is laughter. We gather in a cozy location enjoy coffee, tea and treats.
It was only September 26, 2017 when I attended my first Death Cafe. I really had no idea what was going to happen and I will be honest, I was really nervous. I did not even want to tell anyone that I was going to a Death Cafe in fear that people would think I was weird. I was worried someone would see me going into the event or, even worse, I would know someone at the event. It felt like taboo. I was about to embark on something illegal. Is Death illegal? No, not at all, but let me take you back to how I even arrived at this place in my life.
I had been doing a lot of soul searching about possibly changing careers. Every time I did research I kept coming back to wanting to help people either before or after death. I investigated lots of different options like volunteering in funeral homes, coping centers and hospice care facilities.
Then, on July 27, 2017, I met a lady who, after speaking with her, told me to investigate 'Death Doulas'. I just about died when she mentioned it (no pun intended)! I went home and began my investigation into what was a Death Doula.
Fast forward - I find myself taking a course that had nothing to do with death, but rather, it was about life on September 10, 2017. At the end of this course, I decided to share with the instructor what I was thinking of pursing but had no idea where or how to begin. Well, wouldn`t you know it, she quickly took me across the room and introduced me to a lady who was a Death Doula. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotions. I knew right away that this is my passion and I needed to pursue it. She invited me to a Death Cafe that was happening on September 26, 2017 at St Peter's Lutheran Church in Preston. I was greeted at the door with a warm welcome and the beginning of a journey with the Home Hospice Association. I truly believe things happen for a reason.
I have tried fighting this strong desire that I have to help people navigate death but it continually keeps coming back to me. I get a feeling of excitement in wanting to talk about death and to help others open up about death. It is scary as I know people will be thinking that there must be something wrong with me. Why would I want to talk about it? For a lot of people this is a very new idea. I myself have struggled with the name 'Death Doula'. There are other names like 'Death Midwife', 'Thanatologist' and 'End of Life Facilitator', to name a few.
But, I have decided to embrace whatever name fits. In the end, my main objective is to help open up this difficult conversation about death and to help people navigate through a very unknown territory that one day we will all encounter. My wonderful husband and amazingly supportive kids have been so encouraging of me. They are very used to me talking about death and everything that goes with it. It is for us a household word.
I do not have any medical background for this type of work, but that is not the area that I am interested in. I believe it takes a united group of people to help navigate death well. I am thrilled to be walking down this path to help bring awareness to a topic that we have been suppressing for years.
I invite you to come join me in my first Death Cafe that I am about to embark on. Let's start this conversation.
Let's stop thinking about death and start talking about it instead.
I feel I have been guided towards a movement that I am very passionate about. I knew that I wanted to help people navigate death by helping the dying person live out his or her final wishes and by helping the families and friends who are supporting the person that is dying before, during and after death.