February Death Cafe Iowa
For our February Death Café Iowa, we met via Zoom and Buffy Peters from the Bereavement Professionals Group facilitated. We had a group of eight individuals. Some joined from Iowa, California, Connecticut, and even Vancouver, Canada.
Our group’s conversation was mainly about preplanning, life as an elder, and supporting elders. As far as preplanning goes, we talked about the need to build a community of support because you just never know when you will need that community. Life is short. We talked about how difficult it can be to ask for help though when trying to build this community. In Western cultures, independence is valued, but in reality, interdependence is important when it comes to aging and death.
When thinking about living as an elder, we talked about the double-edged sword of needing help and losing one’s independence. As an elder, asking for help can mean losing one’s independence. Losing one’s independence along with Western culture’s engrained value of independence leads to many elders not getting the support they need. As one ages, they can use help on some things, but not all things and that’s often overlooked. Life is valued so much more to an elder when they’re able to maintain some independence. A neat idea we talked about that supports this is community-based or villages-to-villages living for elders. The documentary referenced by a participant was https://youtu.be/pxq6rIHwcSI in which they talk about idea of living for the elderly.
Often times, family is the assumed caretaker for elders, but most elders worry about being a burden to their family. One point a participant is that one doesn’t see being a parent to their child as a burden and as a parent ages, the child is returning the favor by taking care of them. Sometimes one’s family isn’t able to take care of their aging family, that’s okay, and comes with its own set of emotions and grief. Many participants are eager to support the elderly community, but don’t know how to get into it. So many elders don’t want to ask for help, but there’s so many people who want to help. We discussed how to navigate looking for individuals to help and the importance of word-of-mouth.
To wrap up our group, we talked about how death is talked about by experts and professionals. In our groups, we often have death doulas, nurses, and other direct-care staff, but still, many professionals struggle to talk about death, especially with terminal patients. As a terminal patient, they are often faced with the decision of continuing a treatment that will work for some time or to die. Most professionals can’t talk about the reality of this choice. They dance around the reality of death. We talked about how medical professionals could use further training in talking about death.
Many thanks for this monthly Cafe. Thoughtful, welcoming, and hopeful gathering. I look forward to join in again and again. Jim Kirkpatrick DeathCafe Albany, CA PST
Posted by merav