Last night I went along to the Death Café in Perth at Blend Coffee Shop. The history behind the death café movement is articulately explained here. They are an international movement and generally run twice a year in Perth and at least once or twice a year in Dundee.
My interest in going along is clearly partly professional due to my role within funeral link but also personal too as I’ve been volunteering in and around bereavement for over 9 years since I first experienced a sudden and traumatic loss and am genuinely interested in making end of life conversations and the grief that occurs afterwards somewhat gentler than they are often perceived to be.
I’d never been to one before and had no idea what to expect other than the information that had been shared online prior to the event which indicated a place and space for folks to come to talk openly about death. There’s no agenda as such although a menu of conversation starters are offered should they be needed and what is said in the death café stays there unless those chatting give their express permission otherwise which I thought was a nice set of ground rules… especially given I met someone who lives in the same village as I do who was part of the coordinating volunteer team, small world!
Some folks I know are put off by the title and others are just generally not interested or have a fear of talking about the taboo topic that is death and I have today been called both weird and morose. I will take weird but definitely not so much of the morose! But what is that really all about? Many parents to be like to consider birth plans with all sorts of preparation, options and levels of contingency but not all of us on this wee planet are or will be parents but ALL of us are going to die at some point – FACT! So, what would help us all talk about it a bit more and make it feel somewhat easier, less fearful, weird or morose?
The two hours passed really fast, I met some really interesting people listened to lots of different points of view and experiences and the conversation flowed easily and laughter (yes laughter!) oozed from the doors of the café – I’m sure passers by would not have thought those inside looked either weird or morose!
There is another Death Café in Dundee this coming Friday 17th May at Dundee West Church 2.15-4pm... why not join them if you’re curious or generally interested. They also are on Facebook and Twitter if you fancy following the conversations.