Death Cafe Writeup PSG 2014
Sherry Gilles and Raymond T. Anderson offered Death Cafe to participants at Pagan Spirit Gathering for the second year in a row. Sherry is a Certified Death Midwife and Raymond T. Anderson is a musician and historian.
Topics touched on were end of life care including the work of ministers and death doulas, hospice and personal experiences of the eleven attendees.
This Death Cafe was welomed and well-attended. Because this event took place at a time when two other workshops were scheduled many people also contacted me before and after wishing there were more time slots available and initiated their own conversations with Sherry about death and dying.
Prior to the Death Cafe we provided a Death Anxiety Questionairre to all advising it was voluntary and anonymous. It is the Measuring Death Anxiety form written by Conte, Weiner and Putchik in 1982. Eight attendees chose to fill it out prior to our discussions. One indicated a great fear of dying, the other responses were more moderate.
Many of the atendees work with the dying or have had personal experience with the dying. Eight attendees rated the workshop as excellent and two others as good. One abstained from providing an eval due to leaving early as she had another obligation to attend to.
Words used to describe the Death Cafe were enlightening, empowering, freeing, informative, open, friendly, impressive, welcoming, personal, deep and reaffirming.
Evaluations of our facilitation skills were generally very positive except for a mark down by one participant for "factual errors" which was not mentioned to me at a time in which I could understand the possible problem.
It was hot! We talked under the wide leafy arms of big tree sitting in chairs on the grass. Comfort was rated highly. I give credit to the shade and breeze.
Several noted that this Death Cafe was a place/time where they learned a lot, found reaffirmation of previous views surrounding death and one comment in particular "it has influenced the way I want my body to be taken care of when I die. I have options."
In regarding Death Cafe participants likeliness to recommend others attend comments were "Be open minded. Death is a part of life. It's comforting to hear other peoples' stories as well as your own." and "Do It!", "Go! You can learn so much to help you through the death experience.", and "Come with me!" with a number of folks asking if this would become an annual offering at camp.
Comments about the food were less encouraging this year. We did not have refrigeration or a way leave the premises so we served premade snacks and candy and nuts with tea. Folks were originally asked to bring a drink they liked as there are people with allergies or food intolerances or who are very specific about what they will eat and drink.
We had a great time and hope to offer this again at camp.