From Lizzy:As you may know, I am actively involved in hospice and palliative care advocacy and what keeps coming up is that people in general, and specifically Americans, are averse to thinking or talking about death. We see families at end-of-life who have never had the conversations about their wishes. Not only that, the individuals who are dying themselves have always avoided contemplating their own deaths. A Death Cafe is a pop-up event where people get together to talk about death and have tea and yummy cake. Here’s something on the history.
What I personally find so interesting about this project is that it’s long overdue. For example, the other day, we met some friends for lunch. He’s a writer, she’s a trust attorney who helped my parents set up their health care proxies and wills, and has also done the same for us. At lunch, she mentioned that her previous firm had lost our file and she, now commandeering her own firm, had some questions to ask us about our end-of-life preferences and about updates to our will.
She knew that my dad had made his death easier for us – at least in the bureaucratic sense – by putting our names on all his financial accounts. She suggested we do the same with Megan. In the U.S., this enables you to avoid endless months of haggling. My dad didn’t have any problem planning for death, but he sure had big problems talking about it. This is where Lizzy’s Death Café will prove invaluable.
Have guest speakers. Show videos like 20/20’s piece on James Lenienger, one of the best cases in the Western world on reincarnation. Acknowledge the role that synchronicity plays in the whole death scenario and its aftermath. Strive for an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance for differing viewpoints. If the first U.S. Death Café is done right, it could very well prove to be a tipping point in the discourse about what death is – and isn’t. Novelists do it in fiction, but when it happens in the real world, in real time, in your life, while one of your loved ones is dying, well, that’s a game changer.
Hey, maybe we’ll try the second Death Café here in our repressed community. Stay tuned!