Have you ever been to a Death Café or even heard of such a thing? Does it sound a grim and morbid thing to do, something to be avoided if at all possible? In actual fact, it’s a movement that’s bringing comfort and peace to many people around the World and it is growing all the time.
What is a Death Café?
A Death Café is, basically, a group of people who gather in a café to eat, drink and talk about death and dying. Sound a bit weird? Possibly so, but as a society it seems we’ve lost the ability to talk about death and we avoid the topic if we can. This might sound a perfectly reasonable thing to do – everyone just wants to get on with living, after all – but for people who have to confront their own death or confront the death of a loved one, the chance to discuss their feelings and fears can be a great source of comfort. It can also resolve a lot of anxiety and anguish for their family.
Do you talk about death and dying to your family?
When did we lose the ability to talk about death openly? It’s not clear precisely when this happened, but in days gone by, when life expectancy was lower, before advances in medical science, in times of war etc we would have lived our lives surrounded by death. We would have to talk about it, plan for it and deal with it. However, these days, we’re generally healthier and living longer and it wouldn’t be strange to reach our 30s, or even 40s, before experiencing the death of a loved one. As a result, we have lost the experience of death and we have “outsourced” talking about death to medical or religious people, such as doctors, nurses and priests. Within our own families, death is a taboo subject and anyone bringing the subject up will usually be quickly shushed.
A recent article in the Guardian discusses this same topic:
Do we need to talk about death?
It’s clear that not talking about death within families and within society generally is causing anxiety and anguish for our elderly loved ones and then, when a death happens, it causes anxiety and anguish for those left behind. It doesn’t have to be like this and we could avoid a lot of anxiety and anguish if we discussed death more openly and we were less squeamish talking about our loved ones dying. This is why Death Cafes are such a good idea.
Death Cafes have been around for most of the last decade, but I first heard about them at one of our recent legal clinics at a retirement home. One of the residents was there with her daughter who was visiting from Australia. She was a carer for the terminally ill in Brisbane, she mentioned Death Cafes and how popular they were and said that for the person facing death it was the only way they could talk about what they were experiencing. My initial reaction was that it sounded like an awkward and morbid thing to do, but every one of the elderly residents thought it was a brilliant idea and wished they could go to one and bring their adult children. A common theme for them was that they had faced the thought of their death, they had processed it and were at peace with it, but they could not discuss this with their adult children because the children found this too upsetting to talk about. They all agreed death had to be faced and discussed and planned for and this involved the whole family.
Another article from the Guardian gives more details about Death Cafes:
Where can I find a Death Café near me?
There are more than 2000 Death Cafes in the UK so there will be one near to you if you think you would benefit from going. We would be more than happy to help you find one so please call us and we will make some enquiries for you.
How do I plan for old age and death?
The growth in the numbers and popularity of Death Cafes shows clearly that discussing death openly is wanted and needed by many people and it can give peace of mind and comfort to the whole family. To shy away from this difficult conversation inevitably causes anxiety and confusion. It also means that very few people plan their deaths which can lead to more upset and anxiety. Only 40% of the UK’s population has a Will, a lower percentage still has a Funeral Plan and less than 10% of people have put a Power of Attorney in place in case there is a time when we cannot make our own decisions in relation to our health or finances.
How can Leech & Co help?
We help our clients with Wills, Funeral Plans and Powers of Attorney so that they have a full end-of-life plan in place for when the time comes. This ensures that both our clients and their family have peace of mind knowing that the future is planned, prepared and paid for, that all financial and legal matters have been discussed and dealt with and that loved ones can simply enjoy their time together. This can bring a great comfort to the whole family.
Can us now on 0161 749 9000 or click here for a free, initial discussion about any aspect of this article. We can also assist you with finding financial advice for long-term planning.
We are more than happy to chat through your worries and concerns and plans and advise you as to the best way forward.