January Death Cafe Iowa Write-Up
For our January Death Café Iowa, we met via Zoom. Buffy Peters from the Bereavement Professionals Group and Jennifer Leatherby from the Iowa Death Collective facilitated the group. We had a group of seven individuals. Most were joining from Iowa, but we also had individuals join us from the West and East coasts.
We began our group by talking about tragedy and the responses to tragedy by individuals and the community. Depending on the tragedy that occurred, we talked about how it’s easy to want to blame the incident on something, but why? The person that died in the incident is a person loved by someone, so it’s important to really think before placing blame on lack of judgement, mistakes, etc. that lead to the tragedy. We pondered on the question of why we place blame; concluding that it’s driven by a fear of death and our innate nature to want to prevent future incidents from happening.
We continued on to talk about the importance of being vulnerable with talking about death. One individual shared how sharing their Advance Directive with a neighbor caused their neighbor to make their own Advance Directive in return.
The topic of self-care came up as many individuals in the group work in death related professions. One individual shared how practicing mindfulness prior to helping a grieving family helps them be the best version of themselves they can be when working.
Our big theme of the evenings’ discussion was being an active listener to those grieving. We discussed the importance of just listening and constantly showing up for a person who is grieving. There’s no roadmap to grieving and everyone grieves differently. This can be difficult when caring for someone who is grieving, but being an active listener can help guide you in how to support a grieving person, beyond the time of the initial loss.
In conclusion, some words the group used to describe being an active listener and caring for someone who’s grieving were witnessing, silence, solitude, serenity, constant, and asking what they need or want from you.