West Cumbria’s death cafe movement: We’re dying to meet you

Have you ever actually asked whether a parent, partner or friend has a wish, or wishes, concerning their death? Burial or cremation? Where would they like to die? It’s not easy to do.

Hospice at Home West Cumbria held a ‘Death Pop-up Café’ during ‘Dying Matters’ week on Wednesday 10th May. This event was designed to break taboos and get people talking about living, dying and death. Members of the community were asked ‘What Can you Do?’ in order to start considering practical, emotional and spiritual matters important to them.

It might seem like a morbid topic, but many people have specific wishes about their end of life care or what they would like to happen to them after their death. Not talking about it means that these wishes may never be met. Preparation helps people to make the most of their time, and reduces stress for all family and loved ones.

The Death Cafe movement was founded in 2011 by Jon Underwood from Hackney, East London, after being inspired by the eminent Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz.

The enthusiasm generated by these gatherings has meant that the concept has travelled far and wide, mainly via word of mouth.

In the years since it was founded, Death Cafe has rapidly turned from an idea into a movement which has snowballed internationally. (Stats from www.deathcafe.com)
• To date 4562 Death Cafes have been held.
• So far since September 2011 Death Cafes have been held in 49 countries.

Melinda Hughes, Family & Bereavement Team Lead said “Anything we can do to bring the important but sensitive subject of death and dying more into the open has to be a positive move. Our community gathered to discuss death and the many topics that accompany the subject. Far from being sombre or negative, the feedback we have received has proved that our Death Café was respectful and a very supportive occasion.

We’d like to share our thanks to Mike Jolly – Director of Eaves Funeral Service Ltd, Workington Milburns Solicitors and Andrew Sandelands from John Sandelands Funeral Directors for all of their support and attendance at the event.

Hospice would also like to say a huge thank you to Muffin Break, Costa Coffee and Greggs for their generosity and support on the day. Our community had a delicious selection of muffins, cookies and cakes and half price drinks available to all of our visitors.

Deana Grills – Marketing & Media for Hospice said “It goes without saying; our work would not be possible without the work of our dedicated volunteers. Because of this invaluable contribution, we’re eager to say a big public ‘Thank you volunteers’.”

If you’re interested in supporting Hospice at Home West Cumbria and would like more information, please call 01900 873173 or email info@hhwc.org.uk