Death Cafe Conversation


    Wetaskiwin’s first Death Café was held on Sunday, Nov. 17th. If you are unfamiliar with the name Death Café, you are not alone. Death Café “is an unscripted and honest discussion on the topic of dying and death”. Death Café has only been around since 2004 and was created by Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz. Past participants of Death Café have described it as a “life affirming experience”. Credit for organizing Wetaskiwin’s inaugural Death Café, goes to Susan  Spyker and Joy Genno. Susan is the Recreational Therapist at Wetaskiwin Hospital’s Long Term Care facility. She believes “it is important to think of death in relation to ourselves, our family and friends, and to consider the presence of our living”.
    If you think this type of thing is not for you, think again. Our lives are defined by our births and deaths, and all of us, as much as you might not like to admit it, will one day die. Common sense tells us that facing up to our fears and trying to understand helps make things easier, or at least more understandable. In the case of dying and death, gaining a better of understanding of this will help you appreciate the present. People that have reported near death experiences find that they appreciate life many more times over as a result. Death Café hopes that the input of a number of people in a group discussion provides some added insight into this topic.
    Death Café Wetaskiwin was held in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and was a nondenominational event open to people from all walks of life, and educational levels. Susan Spyker was happy with the Death Café afternoon and said that “it was a cozy afternoon for the first one, but we had lively conversation. Each of the participants were eager to attend another conversation. We shared why we were there, and delved into a bit of our experience related to death, dying, funerals and memorials”.
    Questions from the conversation that arose were such as, where can you have a green burial,can you spread your ashes anywhere,can you make your own coffin? The question of euthanasia also came up, as did when should one prepare a eulogy? “How do you give information to family members so that they know the breadth of your life? We agreed that it is important to share stories of ourselves with our families. Sometimes the only way might be to sit down and have that interview with your parent before you cannot anymore. Another question coming up was, what needs to be done if a family member passes away”?
    Susan Spyker and Joy Genno are planning to have one Death Café per month starting on January 19th. “December is a busy month already and that is why we will start in January. We will have a good idea of our response and need by then. We also plan to have some other activities such as the screening, and after discussion of the NFB film Grief Walker. Joy Genno, who assisted me in this one, will be helping to organize the next events as well. Thank you to those that braved the weather and the topic to join us”. 
    Stay posted for further info on the next Death Café.

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