Mitchell Jansen feared death from a young age.
- Death Cafe was created by two dying doulas who talked about the concept at a “dying to know” expo.
- The death cafe concept started in the UK in 2011 and there have been over 14,000 meetings held in 81 countries.
- Some attendees are dying, others have lost loved ones, and some come seeking advice on planning their funeral
The 25-year-old suffered from anxiety and panic attacks over his own mortality.
“I had a very morbid fear of death because I have cystic fibrosis, so death hangs over my head a bit,” Jansen said.
“It was a constant fear, I was always filled with dread, it felt like I was going to die young, and with the pandemic I’m at high risk.”
A trip to the Tassie Death Cafe in Hobart lightened the load.
“I feel like I’ve been heard and I feel like a weight is on my shoulders. I have an idea of what I want when I die,” Mr Jansen said.
“Even though [death] is a very common fear, you always feel lonely and just being around like-minded people, where I can have my morbid jokes, is a little nicer.”
The death of his great-grandmother prompted Mr. Jansen to take a trip to the Death Cafe and also created a desire to work in the funeral industry.
Death Cafe – a monthly get-together over coffee and cake, often between complete strangers – has been around since 2019.
It was put together by end-of-life doulas Leigh Connell and Lynn Redwig, who spoke about the concept at a “dying to know” expo.
“It’s very simple. The point is really to come together and talk about death and dying in a safe space,” Ms Connell said.
“It’s an opportunity for people to talk about something that’s quite taboo, and there are people who want to talk about it, but they’re turned away.”
The death cafe movement is booming.
It started in the UK in 2011 and since then it is estimated that there have been over 14,000 meetings held in 81 countries.
The participants do not know each other, some are dying, others have lost a loved one and there are those who come to seek advice on how to plan their funeral.
The Tasmanian branch welcomed participants aged 18 to the late 80s.
The funeral was a hot topic.
“What really turns people on is going to a funeral and finding it a little hollow. Sometimes they come out and think ‘I don’t want mine like that,'” Ms Connell said.
“People are really starting to think about what they would like for themselves in the future and want to document that.”
“Little information” on the end of life
End-of-life doula Lynn Redwig says coffee isn’t as morbid as its name suggests.
“When people hear about it, they might think it’s a bit serious and a bit sad, but we get quite a bit of laughter and laughter,” Ms Redwig said.
“It’s always fascinating because you never know who’s showing up and who’s bringing what into space.”
Nikita Harris attended Death Cafe three times and said she had “always been interested in the subject that no one talks about”.
She worked in a nursing home for nine years.
“They often call aged care facilities God’s waiting room. I have met some of the most amazing people and had the privilege of being with them in their final moments. lead me to wonder what happens when you pass by,” Ms Harris said.
“A lot of times people wouldn’t eat or drink and they could tell you ‘my husband is picking me up’, and their husband had died years before.”
Ms Harris said death could be better managed in elderly care.
“In the industry, there is a lot of rush to move the body after they die, but I want people to know that they have time to sit down with their loved ones, have the opportunity to wash their loved ones, to dress them, take their loved ones home if they want to,” Ms. Harris said.
“There is very little information in the industry, even for personnel, regarding end of life and training around end of life.
“There just needs to be more nurturing and nurturing and more love given.”
Death cafe co-founder Ms. Redwig also works as a school nurse and would like talks about death to be part of the school curriculum.
“I was saying to the director, ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was part of the Australian curriculum to teach children from the start to learn about death, to learn about the concept of death and dying'” , she said. said.
“It’s important that we live in a world where we can talk about it because it will happen to everyone sooner or later.”