October 2014

Death Cafe write-up: October 2014

Death Café Marrickville has come and gone again, yet echoes of the conversation that took place still resound in my mind.  Hosted by Lazy Bones Lounge, old and new faces met and exchanged thoughts, feelings and attitudes about all things death.  My impression of the afternoon was that it was almost a relief to be able to talk about death and to explore not only our feelings but the reactions of others toward our perceptions of death and our ease at its inevitability.

As previously, discussion was free-flowing, agenda-free and non-structured and although the group was smaller in number this time, conversation ripped along at a furious pace so much so that before we knew it our time together had come to an end, and that was after we had gone over time for half an hour!  We all talked about our personal experiences of death which varied across the group.  One of the topics which came up was spiritual phenomena associated with death such as after-death contact, and the impact of that on the individual’s bereavement.

Another topic which came up for everyone was the use of metaphors and euphemisms to describe death and the dead.  These included such terms as “passed”, “lost”, “loss of a loved one”, “shuffling off the mortal coil”, “pushing up daisies” and the like.  Why do we do this?  Why is it so difficult to say, “my wife died” or “my son died” or, “she’s dead”?  Is it linked to the death-denying culture of the West that we live in, or is it simply that when we say, “he’s dead”, the terrible finality of the pain of a life without them becomes inescapable?

Do metaphors act as a filtering device, their use of which gently allows the bereaved to come to terms with the death in ways and means understood only by them?  And then again, if we use such metaphors does it mean that we are in denial and in effect don’t want to face the fact that someone close to us has died?  And does it mean that we are disconnected from the dead?  I don’t think so, and nor did anyone present.

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