Death Cafe in Colliers Wood - 22 September 2019

6 of us met for the September meeting of the CWDC together with a lemon and blackcurrant sponge!  3 of us had attended a Death Café before.  We began by asking ourselves where we are with death and dying, grief and loss…


Themes to emerge from our discussion:

Rituals – and the containment they can offer.  The Catholic traditions observed in Goa, India and the Maori tradition in New Zealand.  The gender split that remains strong in both traditions with men and women occupying different domains.


Our loss of the external markers of grief and mourning – the argument for re-introducing something akin to the armband – might a ‘mood badge’ take on?


Children’s natural capacity to integrate death and impermanence.  The current lack of reference to death within the curriculum and the possible role a Death Café might play within schools.


Our formative experiences of death – most commonly grandparents and pets.  The hidden losses and disenfranchised grief of miscarriages and terminations.


The important role animals can play within care home settings.


Is the tide on the turn?  Are we beginning to reclaim death?  


The increasing number of modern (and often female) funeral directors myth busting and dispelling taboos! 


Bringing bodies home…  How comfortable are we with this?  What this entails, at a practical level.  What this can afford us in terms of opportunity to spend time with our loved ones to mourn privately and in our own ways.


The paradox or possible tension between our looking to break free from traditions to get creative, whilst benefiting from and celebrating the sense of holding experienced from rituals when they are observed.  Rituals and traditions vs. choices and options.   


How a ritual can offer intimacy at a time of vulnerability and support the integration of a loss – being held by a community whilst re-setting to a new normal. 


The conversation – beginning this in order to have it as an open and accessible subject that can be revisited and reviewed – so that our wishes and preferences may become known, if these things are important to us.  The strong desire to avoid burdening children and loved ones – our responsibility to address end of life related admin – Wills, LPAs, Living Wills.  The conflicts and tensions that can consume the space in the immediate aftermath of a loss and how these can interfere or influence the grieving process.


‘Moving on from’ vs. ‘moving with’ loss.  Grieving as a fluid, unfolding and evolving process.  References to ‘Grief is the Thing with Feathers’ (by Max Porter) and to Grayson Perry’s ‘Rites of Passage Review’ (on Channel 4) about creating a personalised death ritual. 


Other losses we might wish to honour and learn from including divorce, and endings of significant relationships and friendships.


Honouring:  ourselves and our loved ones, our wishes and preferences, our values and our relationships.  Addressing the inevitability of change, loss, and death in order to honour what is really important to us in this one precious lifetime – living mindfully and more presently.


With thanks to all who took part.

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