North East London Death Cafe hosted by Debbie Young & Alberta Gutteridge
There are things that you plan weeks, or even months, in advance with a great burst of enthusiasm and energy. And then the date comes around and a great number of things have happened in between; unexpected challenges, good things too, and you wonder if you have planned your calendar badly as you aren’t sure you have enough energy for this particular event. Perhaps that’s just me, but it was the case with the virtual Death Café, Debbie & I hosted on Tuesday 10 August 2021. Number two of the North East London series.
How strange then to start an event tired and end it feeling uplifted, particularly, you might think, when the topic is death and dying. But that was the impact of this hour and half on zoom at the end of a grey day. Much of it is the people you get to meet and the special energy that is generated by the sharing of intimate thoughts. It is also the realisation that talking about death is also talking about life. We all know that death is coming, we just don’t when or how – although some people might have greater fore-warning and feel the shadow of mortality a little closer.
A lot of the discussion was around how we get others close to us, parents for example, to be open to having conversations, to release their fear. If we can acknowledge death, does it help us to live easier? Fear is a heavy burden to bear, secrecy about what we fear makes the weight greater. Not knowing was another strand. Not knowing what to do, how we will feel. If you have never experienced death of a loved one, how can you prepare? Is death something you can prepare for?
There is information we can learn to prepare for the practical side, the ‘death admin’, organisations who can provide resources. Organisations that support with the emotional too.
But, for all the questions any of us might have, it isn’t always about the answers or solutions. Being part of a conversation provides a space to say and wonder some of these things out loud. Taking the thoughts that rattle around your head and sharing can lighten the burden, help make a sense of mortality, and perhaps too of life. Even if just for an hour and a half on a grey evening.