A conversation about death over tea and cake

Posted by Nick Wilde on May 4, 2020, 8:17 a.m. 1 comment

Kristeligt Dagblad, (Christian Daily), Tuesday, April 28, 2020 Section 1 Page 4
Coronavirus has made the so-called death cafes popular, though they must now be done online.
People around the world are grieving these days, either because they have lost family members or friends, or because so many others have died due to the coronavirus. It has made the so-called death cafes popular and launched a new edition where people who do not necessarily know each other meet across continents at virtual online cafes to work out their grief.
Nick Wilde, who opened a death cafe in Bedford in England in 2013 and later another in Newport on the British Isle of Wright in 2017, among others, is hosting a virtual edition this afternoon, Tuesday, April 28 at 4 pm Danish time, which is open to all.
"For example, one of the participants will be from Sri Lanka," says Wilde, who himself attended another virtual death café last Sunday.
"Some join because they have lost loved ones, others are health care workers who have cared for the dying. Some have taken care of dying family members and friends and need to share their experience," says Nick Wilde.
Judging by the mention on social media and the internet site Death Cafe, there have been hundreds of virtual meetings since the outbreak of coronavirus. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote earlier this month that death cafes are reporting a boom in interest.
"In these difficult times when death is getting closer to us, it is very important to have a forum where we can talk about our fears and concerns," psychotherapist Sue Barsky Reid told The Guardian.
In 2011, together with Municipal Development Manager Jon Underwood, she opened the first death cafe in England, which developed into the organization Death Cafe. Following Underwood's death in 2017, Jools Barsky Jon's sister is now the leader of the movement along with his mother Sue and Donna his wife.
Death Cafes are usually a physical meeting where participants drink coffee and like to eat cake while discussing life and death, but the coronavirus has forced them to move online. Fritz von Coelln of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, at the University of California is one of the organizers of the Death Café every week.
He has posted a clip on Youtube where you can see how he asks the 15 participants to smile and wave to each other for a start.
Usually, a group of retirees meet every Friday at the Death Café at the California Institute, where the goal is to help people talk about death. The cafe was started by Fritz von Coelln in 2013 after he lost his wife who died of cancer.
"I thought we would live forever," he told the local newspaper, the Orange County Register.
When his wife died, he ended up being able to accept death and now runs the cafe, where you can talk about grief, but also culture of death and philosophy.
At Death Cafes, as well as many other places, the outbreak of coronavirus is getting into a discussion about whether the pandemic will change our perception of death, and how humans should and can handle the many deaths. Even if you do not personally know someone who has died from the virus, it is normal to feel grief anyway, says David Kessler, one of the world's experts in grief for the American magazine Harvard Business Review.
He believes that people feel different kinds of grief, partly because you notice that the world has changed and has become uncertain.
"As an airport was different after 11.
September, things are going to change now, and it's happening right now. The loss of normality, the fear of economic crisis, the loss of togetherness.
It hits us and hits hard, "he says.
According to Kessler, it is necessary to go through a lot of stages such as denial, anger and sadness, because you feel a loss of control before you end up accepting: "It is through acceptance that you get the strength to act. we feel in control again. 'I can wash my hands.
I can keep a safe distance. I can figure out how to work virtual '. "And in that situation, a conversation with others at a death cafe can also help, as Nick Wilde explains on the phone from the UK.
"Death Cafes are especially about accepting that death is inevitable, rather than fighting. Many people find it good to meet with others and discuss it over a cup of tea and cake."
In these difficult times when death comes closer to us, it is very important to have a forum where we can talk about our fears and concerns.


I regularly help to facilitate death cafes in Islington, London and was surprised to see the reference to people attending to ' work out their grief.' In the intro we always give based on DC guidelines we always stress that cafes are not grief counselling and signpost those who need it to the appropriate places.

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