I love travelling and writing, meeting people and experiencing foodie places.
Published December 6th 2014
Tea, cake & conversation about dying, death and end-of-life
Death can be a sensitive topic to discuss openly. Death can be a difficult topic to contemplate privately. At the Death Café, conversations are held about death and dying and to celebrate a person's life.
These conversations bring together people, often strangers, to have tea and cake and to listen to others' viewpoints about what death may mean to them in a non-judgemental atmosphere.
I attended one of these sessions recently. There were eight of us, all strangers. We introduced ourselves, discussed a little of our background and why we decided to attend the Death Café. My decision was based mainly on curiosity – why would a bunch of people get together once a month to talk about death? It is not a bereavement support group and it is not a counselling group for people who are grieving the recent loss of a loved one. It is a group where people can express their views safely and openly in a respectful space.
Our discussions did not sanitise death, it was not wrapped in a Christmas bonbon with a pretty ribbon to be brought out and pulled apart and discussed once a year or after a loved one dies. There was freedom in these conversations. Contrary to what some may think, it was also a place where we laughed a lot.
Our facilitator, Dr. Michele Knight, has extensive involvement in community development, support and advocacy as well as her own interest and research in the area of end-of-life. Michele said that people should be having conversations about death, not when they are terminally ill, for example, but have those conversations before that time.
Michele searched for a venue to hold conversations on death. A number of people she approached for a venue were uncomfortable with the subject matter. She eventually found a venue in Marrickville, the suitably named "Lazy Bones Lounge".
The owner, Craig, who dropped by at the end of our discussions, said he named the Lounge after being inspired by a Fats Waller song. Lazy Bones Lounge features live music seven nights a week and they serve food and a wide range of beverages. If you happen to find a nice comfortable sofa in the lounge, lean back and look up – don't be too stunned by what you see on the decorative ceiling. After all, a café about death, and a lounge called Lazy Bones, is not that outrageous - is it?
So, when did you last have a conversation on death and dying with a relative or friend, or maybe a stranger?