Write up for Death Cafe Liverpool

A write up of Death Cafe Liverpool

By Jamie


Death Cafe Evaluation Summary

Evaluations:  9 submitted

Attendees:  1 facilitator, 10 attendees


Tusk Baltic very kindly hosted our Death Cafe here in Liverpool. This had been advertised through Facebook and through sign ups of people interested over quite a long period of time. There were nine participants, although a number who wanted to attend were unable to, and some of those who initially had booked, did not come along. This might have been due to the fact that the weather was absolutely beautiful!


Jamie Fearn was the facilitator, and brings her experience of bereavement counselling, volunteering for Samaritans and non-religious pastoral support work to the role. Although this was not the first Death Cafe in Liverpool, it was our first partnering Tusk Baltic and Jamie Fearn, with an intention for something regular in future if people want this.


Information had been sent out to participants prior to the event about what to expect, and I ran through some of the key points at the start about accessibility, confidentiality and mutual respect in creating the space for the discussion. We also had small cards on the table to outline what the purpose of a Death Cafe is. We asked if people did not want to have their photos included or their comments from evaluations published in the write up for them to let us know.


Some people had something to eat or drink from the café and the kitchen stayed open until 7pm and we could get drinks until we finished at 8:30pm. Originally the plan had been to split into small groups of 4 or 5, but on discussion, we decided to stay as one group.


Most people had not attended a Death Cafe before. We started by sharing something of what had brought here. All voices were heard at some point through the evening and it felt like a rich sharing of people’s experiences of death and dying, and some useful discussions came out of it about preparing for death.


It has been great to read the feedback (full details below) and hear how comfortable people felt – this feels like one of the most important things in creating this space together. There was one comment about structure about having an agenda, and perhaps this is something for us to work out together. The guidelines on how to run a Death Cafe are really clear that there shouldn’t be an agenda, but perhaps some structure would be helpful in future – I would be curious to open this up to discussion and more feedback around it.


I think perhaps from the feedback and because it was our first one, we were not clear about my role as facilitator, and Death Cafe make it clear on their website that this about creating the right climate for sharing and ensuring we stay within the guidelines. I think there were challenges in sharing in such a big group, particularly when so many people have something to say and are often sharing difficult or personal experiences. There were times when I noticed someone being talked over, and I’m sorry we did not get the chance to go back to your point because things moved on so quickly. We did at one point stop to check if there was anyone who hadn’t had an opportunity to share what had brought them to the Death Cafe. Some of the feedback mentions one person dominating, and for me, I noticed some people had more to say than others, and I’m not sure I had a sense of one dominant voice. At the same time, I feel that different perceptions and experiences will always be part of being in a group, and it does not make any one experience more or less valid – what feels important moving forward is how we manage it as a group, and perhaps we can discuss this more at the start.


It seems to me that as a group we create what is possible in the space we share and it was highlighted a few times at the start that we all have a role in listening. In future, if there are smaller groups (which the feedback suggests would have been better), the responsibility falls to us all to check people have had the chance to share if they want to and to make sure we do not talk over people who are perhaps quieter. It also feels worth mentioning that the purpose is that everyone who wants to gets the opportunity to speak, and it is not for us to assume that everyone will want to.


Overall the most common words used to describe this Death Cafe were thought provoking and interesting, and I definitely agree with this!


I really welcome further discussion on any or all of this, so if you have something you’d like to add or talk about, then please get in touch: jamie@jamiefearn.co.uk


The full feedback from the evaluation forms is as follows:


1.      Overall, how would you rate this event? 5 = excellent, 1 = poor:


·         4 rated it as 5

·         4 rated it as 4


·         The session was exactly what I had hoped it would be. A safe place to talk about the last taboo!

·         Great to have a death cafe in Liverpool.

·         Not sure if I would have liked a bit of agenda?

·         Interesting first experience and well facilitated. However one participant really dominated the space and I found that frustrating

·         Very interesting

·         It felt safe to talk in the group – I feel that it helps to prepare for death thinking about it and the discussion brought so many issues up that helped.

2.      Would you say that attending this event affected your feelings about death and / or life?

·         5 said yes

·         1 said no

If Yes, please attempt to say how:

·         Increased my interest further in how people view death. Led me to read more about it

·         The session increased my sense of now and mindfulness. Talking about Death made me think more positively about life, and how fleeting it can be.

·         It made me think more about how I could deal with death and also details of my own funeral.

·         Just confirmed that I’m not the only one interested in this subject

·         It is interesting to learn other beliefs

·         Some interesting ideas and experiences were shared

·         Expanded ideas and thoughts to process

·         I was not afraid of dying but the discussion helped to make me think about it and it was opening up ideas I have never thought about i.e. the afterlife etc.

3.      How comfortable did you feel during the Death Cafe? 5 = very comfortable, 1 = very uncomfortable.

·         7 rated it as 5

·         2 rated it as 4

Is there anything you can think of that would have made you feel more comfortable?

·         In hindsight, I feel that 2 smaller groups would have been better.

·         Very comfortable apart from comment above (one participant really dominated the space)

4.      How well did the structure of the discussion at the Death Cafe work? 5 = very well 1 = not very well at all.

·         5 rated it as 5

·         1 rated it as 4

·         1 rated it as 3

Suggestions for improvement:

·         Possibly slightly smaller groups would help, but the group wasn't overly large to begin with.

·         Two smaller groups, then coming together at the end as a larger group to share.

·         See question 1 (not sure if I would have liked a bit of agenda?)

·         More attention to bringing forward the people who spoke so little and managing the over talker

5.      Overall, how would rate you the facilitation of the event? 5 = excellent, 1 = poor

·         5 rated it as 5

·         2 rated it as 4

·         1 rated it as 3

Any suggestions for improvement:

·         Lovely venue, I felt the space was a little too open at times, and a cosier room would maybe have felt more comfortable.

·         Last comment (More attention to bringing forward the people who spoke so little and managing the over talker)

6.      How would you rate the cake and drink? 5 = excellent, 1 = poor

·         2 rated it as 5

·         4 rated it as 4

Any suggestions for improvement:

·         There should always be more cake!

·         Lovely food, ambience and service. Very pleased that the music went off.

·         I didn’t have one?

7.      Please choose 3 words which best describe your experience of Death Cafe:

·         Accepting, enlightening, thought provoking

·         Enjoyable, funny, thought-provoking

·         Thought-provoking, safe, interesting.

·         Interesting, fun, connection

·         Interesting, enjoyable, learning

·         Interesting, frustrating, informative

·         Interesting, expansive, connected

8.      If someone told you they were thinking of attending a Death Cafe what would you say to them?

·         I’ll come too!

·         Definitely do it, you have nothing to lose and a clearer outlook to gain.

·         Definitely go along and try it out

·         Do it!

·         I’d encourage them.

·         Encourage them

·         Yes

·         Go!

9.      Do you have any other comments or things you think we should hear?

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