Coffee, Cake and Death Jan 5, 2020 13:02:19 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Jan 5, 2020 13:02:19 GMT -5
Coffee, Cake and Death
On Sunday, February 9, community members are invited for snacks, coffee and an opportunity to discuss death and dying at the Community Home Health and Hospice in Longview, Washington.
The free “death café” is a partnership between the hospice and Meagan Hope, the owner of Bridges, an end-of-life services business based in Vancouver, Wash. Hope first heard of death cafés when she was training to become an end-of-life doula (a doula is a non-medical companion who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, stillbirth or death.) She attended a death café in Vancouver and while she wasn’t sure what to think at first, she walked away invigorated. “I couldn’t believe I was walking away feeling so alive,” she recalled. “It’s actually not morbid. Yes, some people have tears, and some people have honestly never experienced death. It’s a range of experiences there so that you just walk away with a really interesting perspective.”
Hope quickly decided she wanted to host her own death café and partnered with Community Home Health and Hospice. A handful of death cafés will take place throughout the year, however, the February 9 event is the only one planned in Longview at present.
As an end-of-life doula, Hope provides practical, spiritual and emotional support to the dying and their families. She often begins working with people before they enter hospice and compliments traditional hospice services. She assists with tasks such as creating advance directives, helps the patient plan for his/her final days and ensures family members know the location of important documents, passwords, etc. “Oftentimes they have things that need to get done as we prepare for death,” Hope explained. “It’s that checklist of stuff that a lot of us avoid even when healthy and thriving ... all these things your family will really need to know to make that transition easier on the person dying and family as they’re grieving.”
Death cafés have been around for approximately a decade, and are now held in 60 countries. They are all based on the guidelines of John Underwood, who held the first death café in the U.K.
“So many people, when they have someone in their life that’s dying, that’s when they get this crash course on death. Death cafés are just one other thing we can offer to the community to get people to talk about it and then maybe take action in their lives,” Hope added.
There’s no agenda at a death café and it’s not a support group. Instead, people sit at tables and simply talk about death. “There are people who are very comfortable with death and some you can tell it’s a very hard topic to talk about,” she continued. “It’s a way of dipping your toes in. It’s a good way to open the door on the topic of death.”
Hope conducts the death café potluck-style and attendees are encouraged to bring something to share. She is also looking for volunteers to act as facilitators at tables. They’re in charge of getting the conversation going by introducing themselves and making sure the conversation remains respectful and on track. Anyone interested in volunteering should email Hope at email@example.com. The next short online volunteer training is scheduled for Tuesday, January 7, at 7 p.m.
Community Home Health and Hospice Longview is located at 1035 11th Avenue. The death café will begin promptly at 3 p.m. and continue until 5 p.m. RSVP’s are encouraged at bit.ly/Feb9DeathCafe, but not required.
“I really hope this continues to expand. I’ve been able to see what happened in Portland. PDX Death Cafés has been around since 2013 and it’s amazing,” Hope said. “It really took off and I see that need on this side of the river, too.”
Additional information: SW Washington Death Café.
Source: Merissa Heffernan, The Daily News, January 3, 2020.