- By Helen
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If you still have an adverse response to the word, death, you’re likely to be completely baffled by the notion of a ‘death cafe’. But they exist. Like a cafe as we know it, Death Cafes are places for people to meet other people to talk about death and dying. The growing number of death cafes around the world must indicate that people are wanting these public (and very comfortable) spaces to go to so they can talk about something important to others outside of the family and within their community. The need to have death cafes suggests that the subject has not been encouraged or allowed in the past.
If you’re feeling that a death cafe, or talking about death and dying, is morbid, negative or any other pejorative word you wish to use, then I encourage you to think or feel again on the matter. We all die. Death is not the enemy, just part of natures’ lifecycle. It is not to be fought in a manner that suggests it can be conquered but instead be prepared for and accepted when inevitable. Talking about death is not about wishing to die or not about struggling to stay alive when ill or physically threatened, but about being prepared to cope when death eventually comes. So, would you consider having a peak at the subject?
Not too long ago, childbirth was seen as distasteful and as something to be hidden, almost like secret women’s business. It certainly is messy and painful, causing tears as well as celebration. Parallels with death perhaps? Husbands and children were banished from visiting the hospitals when I was growing up let alone being allowed in the birthing room. And yet childbirth has developed and emerged into a far more human and natural process and methodology via education, advocacy and a lot of admirable people putting in a huge effort to bring about change over time, tearing down the mental walls of public perception.
I believe it is time for a big change to occur in our approach to death and how we speak about death and dying and how we bury or cremate our dead. It is not to be feared and it requires our participation where we can only benefit from education and involvement.
The link below lists the death cafes around the world including one at Byron Bay (toward the end of the list). Have a look, have a think.