Death Cafe in Colliers Wood - 12 August 2018
There were six of us round the table at this, the second meeting of the Colliers Wood Death Cafe. Some of us had been to a Death Cafe before, and as we introduced ourselves themes around looking death in the face, in order to live more fully and perhaps more meaningfully, quickly began to emerge.
Our discussion began with thoughts about putting our affairs in order - both at a practical, or logistical level, and emotionally, and different people shared where they felt they were at with the housekeeping aspects of recognising our inherent finitude.
The nature of someone's death was raised as a differentiating factor in terms of the state those left behind may find themselves in, and the impact this can have on funeral arrangements and the events themselves. People shared their experiences of attending funerals where deaths had been expected vs. sudden and how different these felt to be. This led us to explore the question of legacy, and who is a funeral for?
We discussed the stark contrast between the wedding industry, and people's willingness to spend months planning these in fine detail and funerals which all too often are barely thought about by those whose lives they are intended to commemorate and consequently how impersonal or disconnected they can sometimes seem.
We mentioned various funeral traditions and rituals, and began to think about what we ourselves might like to happen after we are gone. Someone referred to the possibility of having a 'dress rehearsal' whereby someone could attend their own funeral. We thought about periods of mourning, and how communities respond differently to their bereaved.
Our discussion then moved to thinking about whether things are perhaps beginning to change and if as a collective society is beginning to face up to death, we called to mind various radio discussions and advertisements seen on the underground about after life planning. Overall, this seemed a hopeful observation, that we might be in a process of reclaiming death - that the taboo is at least being challenged, whilst yet to be fully overcome.
A theme that arose more than once centred upon the secrets or unknowns that can emerge post mortem, and the degree to which we feel we know someone whilst they are alive. This brought us back to reflecting on the regrets we can connect with when we no longer have the opportunity to ask someone about themselves and their lives, and are left to piece together a jigsaw we may never be able to complete.
With thanks to all who took part.
The next Colliers Wood Death Cafe will take place at Coffee in the Wood on Sunday 9th September 2018.
For more information please visit: http://deathcafe.com/deathcafe/7012/ and the Cafe's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeathCafeSW19/