I have hosted a huge number of Death Cafe events, seen them into and through the pandemic, and assisted with the switch from in person meets to online. I have met so many people through the incredible and powerful way in which death cafe allows people to discuss topics which may have felt uncomfortable or unapproachable previously. However something about the movement and the events has always been confining to me.
Through being a host I have been approached by a number of people who are interested in what Death Cafe has to offer but feel daunted by the group discussion. I have often reassured people that I put no pressure on anyone to speak or take part if they wish to just sit and observe, but I have felt that the lack of topics or themes can put people off before they even step foot in the door or click to join Zoom. It gives a sense of the unexpected around the session, and I think too much of an expectation to participate.
I have not hosted a Death Cafe event now for many months while I have considered what I want to do and where to take this. Its not that I don’t think it works, and thousands of events in hundreds of countries proves that it does work for so many people. It’s just that I’m not sure it fits my own purpose or ideas, and in realising that I have come to the thought that I need to start my own events which are slightly more tailored to what I want to do. Something which I would never have realised had I not been involved in Death Cafe’s in the first place, and I am very grateful to them for what they have done.
Hence, I have begun to plan what I am currently calling Dead Good. DG is an open discussion group, but will have topics and themes which can be stuck to rigidly or moved away from if the group wish to do so. I will bring in experts and people with skills or interests that you might not get to meet with otherwise and give people the opportunity to ask questions or to find out a bit more about what they do. To start with this will be open purely to colleagues from the NHS Trust that I work in, I found that the discussions between staff members was incredibly valuable, allowing people to share experiences and compare thoughts on different situations found at work. This is very much a work in progress and potentially something that would work in different ways but something I need to figure out as it develops and after it’s had a chance to work.
Dead Good is also a name that I have come up with alongside colleagues, and I think it fits. For now. It’s not something I have committed to or against changing in the future. It just seemed like a positive note while still using ‘dead’ could attract people who may have not considered the former events.
I want people to see the good and the value in discussing death and dying with others through learning and having the opportunity to discover more around the topic. I have found from past experience that the discussion is sometimes the easy part, it’s getting people to attend that is the difficult part. I’m excited to working on this project and will be launching it during Dying Matters Week in May just like I did with the first Death Cafe events at work.
I’m looking forward to it Gem x
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