October meeting of the CWDC - ONLINE via Zoom
By Cecilia H
5 of us from both sides of the Atlantic came together for the October meeting of the CWDC. Whilst we had all attended Death Cafes previously, we were pleased to welcome a newcomer attending the CWDC for the first time!
Themes to emerge from our discussion:
Our discussion began with some reflections about our experiences of living alongside the pandemic, and current our relationships with fear and safety as we navigate our lives affected in different ways by Covid-19.
Someone made reference to having engaged the services of a death doula, and shared their hope to die with the support of hospice care.
This prompted a discussion about the hospice model, and its availability worldwide. References were made to Dame Cicely Saunders, and personal experiences of care provided to a family member by St. Christopher's Hospice in South East London.
We explored the idea of a good death and the roles awareness, knowledge, choice, and acceptance have to play in this.
We moved to talk about Advance Care Directives, and Advance Planning for the End of Life, and confronted some statistics about how few people actually have these in place.
We began to think about the 'stuff' we accumulate and live with, our physical possessions and personal effects. The comfort they bring, and the burden they may represent for those having to sort through and dispose of these after we are gone. Some of us felt we wanted to be surrounded by our 'stuff' for the rest of our days, others of us felt we would prefer to live simpler lives with much less stuff.
We talked about the conflict that can so often arise in relation to property and inheritance and our own experiences of this. We talked about labelling and designating possessions, and the relevance of the practice of returning gifts to their original donors which would seem to be having something of a renaissance.
Age and stage came into our discussion, and speaking from our personal experience as a group our present aged opinions spanned 6 decades.
Towards the end of our conversation we acknowledged the value of and our appreciation for the deathcafe.com website, and the opportunities it has afforded each of us to connect with ourselves and one another in this meaningful way. Someone shared an update from Death Cafe Founder Jon Underwood's sister Jools, and we agreed in future to post a link at future meetings so that people might donate to the ongoing work of the website which enables people to find out about events taking place worldwide.
How to support deathcafe.com:
Our next meeting will take place via Zoom on Sunday 15 November at 18:00 GMT.
For more information, and to RSVP, please visit the group's MeetUp page:
References shared during our meeting:
End of Life or Death Doulas:
End of Life Doula UK: https://eol-doula.uk/
End of Life Doula Directory US: https://doulagivers.com/find-a-end-of-life-doula/
Coffin Club: https://coffinclub.co.uk/
Dame Cicely Saunders OM, DBE, FRCP (1957-2005): https://www.bmj.com/content/suppl/2005/07/18/331.7509.DC1
St. Christopher's Hospice: https://www.stchristophers.org.uk/home-2-2/about/
Information and Resources relating to End of Life Decisions and Planning:
Advance Care Planning including Advance Decisions (UK):
My Future Wishes: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/my-future-wishes-advance-care-planning-for-people-with-dementia.pdf
Advance Directives and Living Wills (US):