Academics from the University of Glasgow have teamed up with Age Scotland to hold an evening of conversation about death and dying in a Castle Douglas café to mark Death Awareness Week.
Death is a subject which many people find difficult to talk about, and this rare event offers local people the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences in a safe and relaxing environment.
Iain Howie, Regional Ambassador for Age Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “Death should no longer be regarded as a taboo subject. Death is inevitable for all of us, but reluctance to discuss the issue can lead to unnecessary distress and confusion regarding end of life care and funeral wishes. Death cafes provide an ideal setting for individuals to learn what choices are available in a casual, informative setting.”
Although a death café is not a support group, information will be available for anyone who would like to seek professional advice on issues such as how to write a will or an advance directive.
Professor David Clark, founder of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group, said “We are delighted to be working with Age Scotland, Designs Café and local organisers to hold this death café in Castle Douglas during Death Awareness Week.
“Death cafés are increasing in popularity and we are helping different venues and groups to organise them in the Dumfries and Galloway area. It’s a chance for people to come together and talk about any issue they wish, relating to death and dying.”
He added: “In my experience, death cafés are very rewarding. You get to tell your stories and express your opinions and experiences about a matter that affects us all, something which we don’t often get to do in our normal social circles. There are always some laughs too.
“We are delighted to have the support of the Designs café, which is a lovely venue.”
The Glasgow End of Life Studies Group, based at the University of Glasgow’s Dumfries Campus, is investigating the rise in popularity of death cafés. This research is part of a Wellcome Trust-funded project Global Interventions at the End of Life.
The team will not be carrying out any research at this event.
Death cafés are believed to have started in 2004, when Swiss sociologist, Bernard Crettaz, hosted “Cafés mortels” and included them in a book about his research.
Death Awareness week runs from 9-15 May, 2016, organised in Scotland by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief which is an alliance of organisations and individuals that want to work together to raise public awareness of ways of dealing with death, dying and bereavement and to promote community involvement in death, dying and bereavement. This year’s theme is ‘it takes a village’, celebrating all the people who have ever come together to care for a dying person.
In England, Dying Matters Awareness Week runs in parallel with the Scottish event. Dying Matters is a coalition of 32,000 members across England and Wales which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.
The event is free and open to all, and will be held at the Designs café in Castle Douglas. It runs from 7-9pm on May 9.