Q&A: Talking About Death

Did you know we run a Death Café every four weeks?  When I tell people this, they look at me with a puzzled expression and ask lots of questions.  I thought I’d share my answers to their questions here with you all so that you can find out a bit more.

So, what is a Death Café?

A Death Cafe brings people together, often strangers, to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. 

Why did you start a Death Café?

The idea came from residents in the 2022 ‘Living in Southmead’ community survey.  We looked into possibilities and connected with the international Death Cafe who suggest the objective of a Death Cafe is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.

What attracts people to attending a Death Café?

Death is often a taboo topic that is not spoken about much in day-to-day life.  A Death Café is a safe and non-judgemental space for people to listen and share their thoughts, views, and curiosities on death.  It helps some people to problem-solve or overcome practical or planning issues. 

What if I don’t want to share anything?

You are welcome to come and listen to others if that is what you prefer.  We tend to introduce ourselves at the start and some people choose to say a bit about what has brought them to a Death Café, but you are free to participate as much or little as you want to.  We ask that people are respectful of other people’s views which could be different from our own.

What do you talk about?

Some of our interesting discussions have included: mediums and tarot card readers’ abilities to interact with the deceased; preparing to speak to adult children or friends about funeral plans and other later life planning; how bereavement can affect people at different ages; the importance of making a Will and that this can be done cost-effectively; other approaches different countries have towards death, such as Mexico celebrating the ‘Day of the Dead’.

How many people come to the Death Cafe?

It varies.  It has been anything from three to ten people.

What have you learnt from running the Death Café?

Having been through close bereavements of my own, I feel that it is important to have an awareness of death.  We are all likely to experience losing people at some point in our lives, and no-one lives forever.  Talking about death and having this awareness helps me to appreciate life and that appreciation makes my life better.

What isn’t a Death Café?

It is important to say that a Death Café is it not a bereavement or support group.  If you need emotional support to cope with a loss or potential loss, you can contact Cruse Bereavement Support on 0808 808 167, or come along to the Greenway Grief Café which happens on the second Wednesday of every month.

When is the next Death Cafe?

On Monday 20th May, 4:30 – 6pm, at the Greenway Centre.