CWDC - 19 July 2020
By Cecilia H
8 of us met for the fifth virtual meeting of the Colliers Wood Death Café via Zoom. Once again the meeting welcomed participants from ‘across the pond’, with attendees joining from CA, FL, and WI!
Themes to emerge from our conversation:
The powerful and meaningful sense of connection we have been able to create virtually during the pandemic. The poignant quality this has – and also to reflect on lost loved ones we are not able to connect with, and who we will never see on screen.
The sense of history we feel ourselves to be living through currently – and how likely defining this period of time will be to our generation – as those who lived alongside Covid-19.
The sense of displacement those who lost loved ones prior to Covid ‘in the before times’ may feel. As though their losses have themselves got lost.
What happens for us when we consider our non-existence, and the time when we will ourselves not be here. The fears we may connect with when we think both about dying, as a process, and of not being here. The comfort we may derive from that sense that just as we are programmed to be born, so we are programmed to die. Our bodies have this innate wisdom; we know how to do this.
The desire to control what happens after we are gone. Death representing the ultimate surrendering, or at least relinquishing of control. Our experience of watching people we care about navigate and negotiate this process. The preparation we can do in advance – as freeing and liberating. The creative potential and deep relational developments this can make possible. The trauma families can and often do face when the person they love dies without having made their wishes known.
The importance of appointing guardians and advocates to speak for us and represent our wishes and preferences in the event that we become unable to do so. How very complicated the reality of administering estates so often becomes.
Legacies and the impossibility of a guarantee. Everything changes and nothing stays the same. We can plant trees, but cannot know that they will remain the same location and, if they do, for how long they will thrive. How do we remember our dead? Does someone die whilst people continue to talk about them or otherwise honour their memory?
The living legacies that educators leave amongst those whose lives they touched.
“I touch the future. I teach.” ~ Christa McAuliffe
How do we each hold and embody this sense of ‘living well’?
What might lockdown have taught us? Which lessons do we not want to forget, or lose sight of? The evaluative review and appraisal that this enforced slowing down (and in some cases solitude) has been possible. The preciousness of the reflective space it has created for many of us. Not wanting to recreate the same level of unmanageable and unsustainable busy-ness of life before the pandemic.
Having ‘rocks’ and being ‘rock’ for other people. Do we support those from whom we feel we receive it? Discerning between the drains and radiators in our lives.
Our sense of dying when those we love die. Little pieces of us feeling to die as those vital relationships transition, change, or end. Might ‘going first’ and dying before losing our loved ones, be something of a blessing?
How I feel about dying changes, depending on how I feel in relation to life.
This is how I feel now… and I reserve the right to change my mind!
With humility, respect, and heartfelt thanks to all who took part.
“We should use the inevitably of death as a way to get the most out of life, only then can we be satisfied with our journey,
and ease the grip of anxiety that death has over us.” ~ Irvin D. Yalom
Our next meeting:
Will take place on Sunday 16th August, at 18:00 BST (GMT +1).
This will use the same Zoom link:
(Meeting ID: 894 3938 5538)
I have shared this on the deathcafe.com website, and Facebook page.
Please feel free to spread the word, and join our conversation!
To convert the time to your time zone: https://everytimezone.com/
Resources shared during our meeting:
Being Rock – redefining listening
Caitlin Doughty, and funeral playlists
Award winning TV series - Six Feet Under (2001-05)
The Undertaker’s Daughter, by Kate Mayfield (2015)
Irvin D. Yalom, MD – existential psychiatrist and author of ‘Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death’ (2011)
“Grappling with the notion of death helps one to realise the preciousness of life.” ~ Irvin D. Yalom