Death Cafe in Colliers Wood - 27 October 2019
6 of us met for the October meeting of the CWDC to which we welcomed along 2 newcomers both of whom were attending a Death Cafe for the first time. We introduced ourselves and reflected on where we are with the subjects of death and dying whilst sharing a zingy lemon drizzle cake inspired by Mary Berry.
Themes to emerge from our discussion:
The unspeakable quality and seemingly unacceptable nature of grief and bereavement. How difficult it is to find meaningful compassionate responses in the face of bereavement. People’s awkwardness and not knowing how to speak to those who are grieving. The shaming responses that can result.
The rigid taboos that can exist within families who would rather not ‘go there’. How do we start these conversations, and how do we then continue them? Being trailblazers, dropping and planting seeds, continuing to return to the subject…
What does it mean to ‘live well’? How do we define ‘well’? The relationship between ‘wellness’ and living ‘consciously’ and presently in accordance with our own individual values and choices.
The value of having places and spaces in which to reflect on our finitude and ponder our relationship with mortality.
Thinking about Wills etc., how important is it? For whom might it be important? How burdensome it can feel to not having given this attention. The gift of clarity managing this can represent for those left behind having to deal with our affairs when we’re no longer around.
The current climate in which we are living - XR (Extinction Rebellion), David Attenborough and death from an extinction perspective. Differentiating angst from conscious action. The power of non-violent communication and the far-reaching impacts of the inclusive collective psyche. The current installation at the Horniman Museum.
Locating ourselves within our families – considering where we each are, children, parents, grandparents, siblings. Identifying as children of ageing parents many of whom have or will shortly have increasing care needs.
Digital legacies, and archives – who knows our passwords, and what will happen to the information we have stored in the Cloud when we are no longer walking the earth? Digital memories and the automated prompts and reminders of events and anniversaries that social media gives us.
The significance of losing a pet and the decisions involved in ending an animal’s life and honouring these special relationships.
Traditions and religious influences – burial vs. cremation. Attachment to ashes / cremains, holding onto these – for now, or for ever.
Hallowe’en and the current disconnect with Day of the Dead – contrasting experiences of how this time of year is marked in Italy and Mexico.
Referring back to the image of the Mexican wave of human existence from aa previous discussion – as those who are currently ‘standing up’, how are we living our lives? How are we choosing to spend the time we have, knowing that we can’t know how long we’ve got? How do we become and remain more present with death and dying, without becoming overwhelmed?
With thanks to all who took part.