By David F. Rooney
The very idea of a Death Café sounds a tad macabre but this event scheduled for Thursday, February 25, at Sangha Bean Café is anything but weird and morbid. In fact, it promises to be psychologically healthy and life-enhancing.
“There’s a resurgence of people reclaiming an acquaintanceship with death,” sayd Krista Cadieux, the café proprietor who recently finished her training to become Revelstoke’s first death doula. A death doula or a death midwife is a person who helps someone diagnosed with a life-threatening illness get their life in order, think about their end-of-life care and help them and their family cope with the stress of death.
Thursday’s Death Café, is co-sponsored by the Hospice Society, and is free to attend. It is intended as a group-directed discussion about death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is, she said, an informal, inclusive discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session. A facilitator will be present to engage conversation. The aim is to increase awareness and acceptance of the fact that we will all die one day and preparedness or giving thought to that reality is essential to living and dying well. Sangha Bean Café is located at 111 Connaught Avenue around the corner from Padrino’s Pizzaria. The doors open at 6:30 pm and the conversation runs from 7 pm until 9 pm.
It’s a concept that has come full circle as increasing numbers of North Americans realize that they are woefully out of touch with the lifecycle landmark we all share — death.
It has seemed apparent to many Baby Boomers that just as they worship youth, North Americans fear death and even avoid talking about it. It was not always so.
Right up until the middle of the last century it was not unheard of for families to hold wakes at home. The recently deceased would be laid out in a coffin in the living room and family and friends would eat, drink and tell tales (Some of them perhaps even true!) about the guest of honour. We don’t do that anymore — at least not at home — preferring to do like the folks next door and lay out dear old Dad at a funeral parlour and not next to the good china.
“It’s how people used to handle death — it was taken care of within the family,” Krista said in an interview. “If you’re with a loved one at the end of his or her life it’s not morbid. But we’ve changed over the years. Now we are very much a death-fearing culture. But we can change that.”
The Death Café Krista is holding on Thursday, February 25, is intended to erase some of the fear and distance that exists between us and our inevitable date with Mr. D. (Please click here to view the poster about this event.)
That tiny bit of distance seems to make death something that happens to other people. Do we even talk about death with the kids anymore? Or take them to funerals? I went to my first funeral, along with my younger brothers and sisters, when I was about 11 and we did talk about it in the car during the drive from Montreal to Cornwall, Ontario. My Aunt Kay was one of my favourites and there was never any question about attending her funeral. But I am familiar with other Boomers who were adults before they saw a dead relative. This was not because they didn’t know anyone who had died but because their parents had made a conscious decision to not take then as children to funerals.
This Death Café, like others envisioned for the future, will help kick-start our community’s non-denominational conversation about death and dying. It’s a conversation worth holding. I’ll see you there.
Please click here to read my original interview with Krista.
For more information please call Krista at 250-814-0080.