Death Cafe comes to life
A Death Cafe´ will be held next month in Waihi.
Bronwyn Annand and Carole Spice want to break the taboo of death, and say what is better than “having a cuppa and talking about it,” Bronwyn says.
The first Coromandel Death Cafe´ is on Saturday September 8 at Raw Artisan Market Place.
This meet-up is part of a global movement where people meet socially to talk about aspects of dying and death.
Bronwyn says it is reintroducing a topic which is taboo in the society.
“European population especially do not have the culture of death.
“Nowadays, we believe in science and competence. This will be dealt with.
It’s something we see in movies a lot and we perceive death as a failure,” she says.
From her 30 years of experience as a health professional, Bronwyn says we are not prepared enough to talk about death.
“When I was working in an intensive care unit and oncology in Melbourne Hospital, my main task was to have that awkward conversation with patients.
“It is hard as no one is used to talking about it,” she says.
Death Cafe´ helps “normalise” death as part of a discussion, sharing experiences with people from all walks of life.
“It can turn into a funny and uplifting conversation and we learn from each other.”
But Death Cafe´ is not a grief support group, the organisers say.
“It’s not grim or morbid. “Nobody who comes to Death Cafe has an unnatural fascination in death. There are some real heartfelt moments here,” Carole says.
Most Death Cafe members are inspired by the fact that no one knows how long they have and they appreciate their life, making the most of every day, she says.
Carole and Bronwyn are also facilitating the Tauranga-based Death Cafe´ which meets every six weeks. The Tauranga group has 168 members aged between 18 and 96.
The Death Cafe model was developed by Londoners Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid, based on the ideas of Swiss sociologist and anthropologist Bernard Crettaz.
Carole, who started the local group in 2016 with Grace McGregor, is an interfaith minister. She’s worked as a funeral and marriage celebrant, and was always interested in what happens when we die. She believes life and death go hand in hand, but she also has an environmental concern.
“We only have so much time on this earth. Relating to environmental problems such as extinction of animals and pollution, my view is we are acting as if life is limitless.
“Because we are taking death out of our conversations there is no awareness that there’s an end,” Carole says.
Facilitator of Waihi’s first Death Cafe, Bronwyn Annand.