Some months ago, Maneesha had a wonderful talk with Jon Underwood, who brought the phenomenon of Death Cafes to the UK. These are essentially, venues (not literally cafes, though they can be) that provide a place where people can gather “who are willing and want to talk about the taboo subject of death,” in the words of Ritama, team member and trainee from 2012.
Ritama went to her first Death Café recently, this one at the Bury St Edmunds Hospice (in the UK) “It was very relaxed and yes, we did drink tea/coffee and eat cake!” she reports. “There were probably 25 people present, of all ages and from all walks of life. It felt a little like the place where all the questions you ever wanted to ask but didn’t quite dare were actually ask-able — even the question came up ‘Why do we find it so hard to talk about death? — and that possibly someone would have an opinion or an answer.
“There was no dogma spoken of; no one spouting ideas of what was right or wrong view — .just a sharing of thoughts and experiences, such as how grief is for some; how to deal with the dying; how to touch; what can be said…down to how to arrange a funeral and what can be put in place now so that, whenever our own demise comes it will be a little easier for those left behind.
“What did occur to me as I sat and listened was that during the Sammasati Support-Person Training (now The OSHO Sammasati Experience) last year we had looked at and discussed and role-played virtually all the scenarios that were being presented. There were no subjects being raised that we had not touched on — that seemed remarkable! I also realised that whatever our background, whatever our lives have been, we will share thoughts, feelings, emotions, and many other issues in deaths and our dying , just as we have in our living.”