The first ever Death Cafe in Colliers Wood
This was the first in a series of Death Cafes we plan to hold in SW19, and was held on the same afternoon as the finals of both the World Cup and Wimbledon. The cafe was attended by four people, who met together with myself and a co-host.
Informative, Insightful, Compassionate, Safe, Relief, and Flexible were words shared by participants in their feedback, to describe the experience of attending.
Our conversation touched on several themes around starting to talk about death to those we care about, about what we would ourselves want, and how we might broach the subject.
We explored differing views on whether children should be told about death, and reflected on our own experiences - both as children, and as adults. We considered how a child might struggle to make sense of something they experience but for which they are not offered an age appropriate and timely explanation.
We shared our experiences of being talked to by the dying about their wishes, and the relief this seems to offer many who are pleased to have imparted information about how they might like things to happen both before and after they have gone.
We discussed some of the decisions that may need to be taken at the end of life, around medical interventions and approaches and where advance planning might fit in, particularly where there are likely to be differences of opinion amongst family members. We grappled with the thought of how to introduce the subject with our own children, and the challenge this may present regardless of a child's age or stage.
The open and fluid discussion afforded us the opportunity to talk about things that don’t get much air time elsewhere, and ‘temperature test’ where we might be at (on one of the hottest days of the year) within ourselves, in thinking about putting our 'affairs in order' and beginning conversations that we feel we ought to have but fear the possible consequences of so doing.
At the end of our conversation we reflected on the fact that none of us knows how long we have, and how this might prompt us to begin to think about how we might become more comfortable with death, and less complacent about life.