October Death Cafe Iowa

For our October Death Café Iowa we met on Zoom. Buffy Peters and Becca Suvalsky from the Bereavement Professionals Group facilitated the group. In total there were 5 people in attendance, 2 men and 3 women, and participants ranged in ages and professions. We had individuals join from Minnesota, Canada, and Iowa. Death Café Iowa is officially international now J.

Several interesting topics were brought forward for discussion. 

A few topics included:   

Death experiences: Members discussed and shared personal stories of witnessing someone die. Everyone’s death experience is so different. One member shared about the program, No One Dies Alone (NODA). Several hospitals have this program in hopes that those who do not have family or close friends to sit with them at the end of their life will not die alone. 

The book “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi: Several group members have read this book and highly recommend it. It is a beautiful book written by a man who is terminally ill. He confronts his illness head on and embraces that he is going to die.  

End Well website: End well has a ton of videos about death and dying. One member shared that they watched “Paradox of Death & Dying” and it was really good. It talked about being vulnerable at the end of your life. 

Asking “what if” is not always a bad thing: Especially now members shared how they are thinking about death and dying even more now. One member shared how they are concerned with their safety and how they are constantly thinking about the corona virus. Another member shared how they often think about how they want to live their last days. The consensus was that it is okay to ask “what if” because it helps prepare us for the future.  

Language matters: The more compassionate words we can use the better. This is especially true when talking about stigmatized deaths. We need to all be more careful to make sure our words are honoring the person’s life as well as being compassionate to the survivors. Another member also mentioned that we need to start talking about terminal illness differently. We make it sound like those who die from a terminal illness have failed.  

It was such an interesting and eye opening Death Café as we welcomed a few new members. We look forward to more interesting and insightful conversations in our next Zoom meeting in November. 

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