Report on the Death Cafe at Cafe Rouge Hampstead, London, on 9 December 2013 with Josefine Speyer
Number of participants: 31 guests, (26 returned feedback sheets: 20 women, 6 men)
Average age: 50
(women: 48 (22 – 78)], [men: 54 (27 - 78)]
(Plus 3 female facilitators/host: Average age: 48)
Overall, how would you rate this event? Overall: 9
(Average for women: 9.1) (Average for men: 8.5)
This Death Café at Café Rouge on 9 December was surprisingly busy. We had space for 27 guests. But on the evening many more guests arrived and many who had booked did not turn up. We were a little crowded but managed to squeeze everyone in. I had already decided that the booking system did not work. Admin takes a great deal of my time and because the event is free bookings are not reliable. From January we will accept who ever comes along on the evening without booking and hope that it works. If not, we will have to think again! We will find a good solution.
We used three double tables. Thirteen of us sat around my table. Philomena Corrigan and Sharon Young also facilitated a table each. Despite the fact that the acoustics are terrible and hearing was difficult, and we had a chaotic start, it was a remarkable evening. The general consensus was of an enriching experience. Many deeply personal stories were being shared by people of different ages and backgrounds and different religious or spiritual beliefs.Josefine Speyer, host and facilitator
This time I was facilitating a large table with a mix of people from different backgrounds; including younger people who had been bereaved and older people with a life limiting illness. I felt that much was gained from exchanges between those who had lost parents and family members and those who WERE parents and considering the effect of their illness upon their children. We spoke of the importance of loving family and meaningful relationships. From various religious and personal perspectives we talked about the importance of and comfort gained from different rituals surrounding death and funeral/ mourning practices. We also considered what happens to the body and its energy in and after death.
As before, with all the stories and ideas shared, this evening was open and honest. It is an intimate event and feels a privilege to discuss the topic of death and the dying process on a deeper level without the superficiality that can sometimes dominate our everyday life.
Sharon Young, co-facilitator
Feedback from some of the participants:
A 22 year old student and youngest participant of the evening came to Death Café for the first time, having read about it in the Time Out article and had looked up the website. She said she had been bereaved and wished to learn about end of life issues. She appreciated the ability to openly discuss life/death and to share experiences with others and hear their opinions and views. “It has made me more at ease with my own anxieties and queries. I have met some fantastic people. It would be fantastic to hold a death café linked with Universities.”
A 57 year old psychotherapist attended Death Café for fourth time. She had originally heard about Death Café on Radio 4. She comes because she wants to prepare for her own death. She said she appreciated “the respect for each other, the openness of sharing without judging. I always feel emotionally fulfilled from the evening exchanges. It feels life-affirming. I feel inspired.”
A 27 year old writer came to Death Café for the first time, having read about it in the Time Out article. He said he wanted to prepare for his own death. He appreciated the open forum and the non-judgemental atmosphere. He found the evening informative, stimulating and engaging. “I enjoyed hearing from different perspectives but also wonder whether part of the time could be better spent in groups based on religious/spiritual belief to enable, for example, atheists to discuss issues particular to their own/non belief.”
A 69 year old retired teacher had heard about the Death Café about the Natural Burial website. She had come for the second time. She said she wanted to prepare for her own death and wished to learn about end of life issues. She said she appreciated everything about the event. She found it positive, stimulating and enlivening/ “I like the plenary session in one circle where we can all see each other. (i.e. a bit of quick stage managing!)”
The oldest participant was a 78 year old semi-retired family mediator who came for the first time. She said: “I find it very hard to accept that I will die one day.” Sharing thoughts and experiences with a very interesting group of people who were very open, is what she particularly appreciated about the event. Her experience of this Death Cafe was very positive and made her want to attend future meetings.
I'd like to come to your next meeting - where/how can l find the details for it?
Posted by Maja
Death Cafe mailing list
Hello Maja, if you would like to be on my Death Cafe mailing list, please contact me here:
The next Death Cafe will be on Monday 10 February at Cafe Rouge.
Posted by Josefine Speyer