4 of us attended including one person for whom it was their first time attending a Death Cafe. We shared a generously iced carrot cake (GAIL's Bakery recipe). We opened the meeting with a brief reminder about confidentiality and respect for people's stories.
Themes emerging from our discussion:
Crisis situations and hasty decisions - the importance of choice, autonomy, and independence, and the role of an informed advocate in an emergency medical/hospital scenario.
Tragic unexpected and unplanned-for deaths vs. Statement of Wishes - why do we not get prompted to give this thought as we take out a mortgage or write our Wills?
A parent's rights vs. those of a partner. The distinction that continues to be made in certain spheres between married spouses and partners who have not formalised their relationship in this legal manner. The words 'Til death do us part'
Family feuds with a sense of a hierarchy of grief - who owns the loss? Whose grief is more serious? How much difference might having a Living Will / Advance Statement make in the dreadful situation in which a family have to make a difficult decision as to whether to continue Life Support?
Impact of a sudden loss on a family system, with the roles played by different characters and the consequential dynamics - how much everything changes around a loss and the time the recalibration involves. What helps this process? What gets in the way?
The shroud of silence that can sometimes fall over a tragic death that people don't want to speak about for fear of the shame that may be associated with it, and the impacts of not talking about a death/lost loved one.
What is it about the word 'death' itself, that we find so difficult, or even unbearable? Our reactions and responses - how helpful are these? Comparing our inability to speak about death to a form of cultural/societal self-harm; with information so readily available, but we do not avail ourselves of it and suffer stress that could be prevented.
Alternative funerals - someone's experience of attending a fireworks display on a beach with the cremains going up in smoke in a beautiful spectacle!