Death Cafe comes to life

Waihi Leader - - News - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

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.

PHOTO / ME­LANIE CAMOIN.

Fa­cil­i­ta­tor of Waihi’s first Death Cafe, Bron­wyn An­nand.

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