The University of Northampton hosts its first ever Death Café, each afternoon between 30 October and 3 November in our Pavilion Café, Park Campus. Here, Dr Jane Youell, researcher and advocate of talking about taboo subjects, blogs about what the Death Café is and why attending is something to consider.
My Dad, Don Beamish, died a little over a year ago now. I know that isn’t the most ‘positive’ of opening sentences, but bear with me.
We received really good care, the nursing staff interacted with us every day but the closer Dad got to death the more they backed away. We had an ‘end of life care’ nurse, but she wasn’t always available and there was a sense that professionals weren’t really that comfortable being around us. They were sympathetic afterwards but a little distanced in the run up.
If only my family and I had a social space to talk openly about death before I was having to support someone through it…like a Death Café!
The death café is not a physical location, but is an event hosted at someone’s house, place of work or community centre. The official objective of a death café is to increase understanding of death while also creating a chance for health/care professionals to talk about death.
The death café has about 15-25 people gathered in small groups discussing death related topics and usually lasts 2 hours. Tea and cake are one of the most important features to the event as they make it appear friendly and appealing. The concept has spread due to media attention and because of the topic evoking so many different people’s thoughts of what death means.
With funding from the University of Northampton’s Give-It-A-Go fund (part of their Changemaker programme), we will be hosting a death café at the Universities Pavilion Café, located in their Park Campus, each day between 30 October and 3 November from 2.30pm – 4.30pm
The event is open to all, whether you are a student of the University, a member of staff or a member of the public interested in finding out more. Email me to register your attendance on one or all of the afternoon sessions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to those attending: Park in car park 3 and use the intercom to buzz for entrance to “Pavilion event”. For those who can walk or get public transport to Park campus, those options are recommended.
Special thanks to Alison Ward, University of Northampton, Sarah Hunt, Arts for Health, Annette Ward, University of Northampton & Willen Hospice and Stacey Ackerman, Milton Keynes University Hospital for all their support and encouragement with this project.
Dr Jane Youell is a freelance Chartered Psychologist specialising in the relational wellbeing of those living with dementia. You can find out more about her work on janeyouell.com.