This week is Death Awareness week and yesterday I went for tea to the death cafe at St. Joseph Hospice Hackney. I met there three of my friends and we were joined at our table by three other women.
This is not a report but simply a note. When I used to go out with Elizabeth my friend, now deceased, I was sometimes embarrassed by the way she made a point of telling the organisers if the hard-of-hearing were not catered for. Now that my hearing is failing I understand her.
There was abundant tea, coffee and lovely cakes in one of the Education rooms of the hospice. We were welcomed and introduced to some members of the staff and told that Death Cafes were becoming more established in London. We sat around the tables and talked. We talked at length about funerals and briefly about assisted dying, hospices, last days of life, in a more or less personal way. I did miss some of the contributions but it is difficult to ask people more than once to project their voice.
It is a shame that there was no summing up. I was curious to know what were the subjects at the other tables. We were asked what we felt about the name of Death Cafe as a name for these meetings. A majority of people approved of it.
I was clearly the older at our table yesterday and I was surprised to know that one woman said that the only funeral she ever attended was her father’s. After my friend’s funeral last week I realised that I had a special folder for ‘Order of Service’ booklets. This morning I counted the number of funerals I attended in my life. They amounted to 22*. The deceased were all close family relations and friends. I suppose that I come from a generation where families were not as dispersed as they are now and that I have reached an age when my contemporaries are dying.
5 of us decided to meet again to speak about death.
*2 sets of parents, 6 uncles and aunts, 2 sister/sister-in-law, 2 cousins, 7 friends, 1 niece .