Pansies are for Thoughts
Pansies are for Thoughts
"Society has lost control of one of the most significant events we ever have to face" John Underwood, Founder of Death Café
“A what??” is the usual verbal response when I mention I host and facilitate Death Cafés. The physical response is usually a widening of the eyes followed by silence or intrigue.
Silence because death seems to be a taboo subject for some. Intrigue because curiosity is aroused.
I’ve worked with life and death since I was 17 years old. My first real job was in the life insurance business, an industry that held my career until 6 years ago. So I’ve been working alongside death for a very long time.
In my insurance career I sat with widows, widowers and children about to cross a threshold into a life without a loved one alongside. In my personal life, I've sat as witness to life’s labour coaching moms to their baby’s first breath, and I bore witness as my mum laboured to take her last.
After leaving the corporate world I applied to the Celebrant Foundation and Institute and was accepted to study to become a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant. I create and officiate custom ceremonies and rituals for all of life’s rites of passages, including Death.
The contrast in discussions with clients planning the various rites of passage they have hired me to ritualize is vast.
As couples share their plans for their wedding or welcoming a new baby, the air is filled with excitement. Other clients excitedly share details of their new business or their plans to retire.
Each of these rites of passage has been carefully thought out, discussed with family members, researched and planned so even the size and colour of napkins are chosen only after looking at the many options.
Then there’s the one and only rite of passage we are all guaranteed, and nobody can plan its date. Death.
As I listen to someone left with planning a final farewell ceremony, the words I hear most often are “we thought we had more time so we never discussed it" and many people have no idea where to start because "it" wasn’t talked about.
Like most things in life, not talking about something doesn’t make it go away, yet the one and only rite of passage that is guaranteed to each and every one of us, is the one we are most reluctant to talk about.
Death Cafés are a welcoming, open, respectful place to talk about death and everything that surrounds it. Talking and sharing gives us the power of learning and the power of knowledge.
In all the years I worked in the Life Insurance business, (which, when you think about it, is really Death insurance) nobody raised an eyebrow when I mentioned my work, but they’re surprised when I mention I host a Death Café.
Death is a part of life, and yes, tears are sometimes shed at Death Cafés however there is also much laughter, sharing, acceptance, enlightenment and learning. Not one has been morbid, they aren't "spooky" and no 2 are ever the same.
By talking about death we can live our best life knowing, like everything else in life, it will one day come to an end.
And this is why I facilitate Death Cafés.
(More information on the Death Café social franchise can be found here)