It's a subject many people find difficult to talk about, but all of us will have to face
That’s why Dying Matters, which this year runs its annual awareness week from May 13 to 19, has become one of the most important national platforms for bringing the subject of death into everyday conversation.
But at St Luke’s Hospice, this most sensitive of subjects is one that comes up for regular discussion thanks to a series of Death Cafes which are open to all and which are held at Clifford House, the St Luke’s facility for people with illnesses that have no cure.
Counsellor Debbie Talbot became involved in the Death Cafes last year and for her they provide a way of discussing something that her own family would never have talked about.
“My family never welcomed this sort of discussion so I found it hard to process my thoughts around death and loss,” Debbie admits.
“The Death Cafes give me space to talk about death and, as a counsellor, also help me to be there emotionally for somebody who might be going through loss themselves.
“I have experienced a space which has felt very safe and respectful of difference and experience and I have felt heard and not judged.
“People have been very open in sharing their experiences and I have been both humbled and moved by the way people have shared their vulnerabilities and how they have found resilience and resourcefulness in the face of life’s experiences, traumas and loss.”
Inspired by her Death Café experience, Debbie has already planned her own funeral and is now feeling more confident about talking to her daughter and her family about death.
“Death Cafes are a safe space to come and share and nobody should feel anxious about coming or be afraid of talking,” she says.
“Attending Death Café helps me to consolidate my thoughts, has sometimes challenged my beliefs and gives me a forum to be able to explore this interesting and inevitable topic.”
The next Death Cafes will be held at Clifford House on July 17 and October 19.
Look out on St Luke’s Social Media for events around Dying Matters Week.