FOLLOWING successful first ‘Death Café’ events last year, the team at MidCoast Council is partnering with other local businesses to acknowledge this year’s “Dying to Know Day”, bringing to life conversations about death, dying and bereavement.
It’s traditionally been considered a taboo topic, never to be discussed over dinner or drinks.
But research has shown that community-led conversations about end of life care, death and loss can build compassion, understanding, and a readiness to respond in a pragmatic and positive way when it occurs.
Dying to Know Day is an Australian initiative held during the first week of August each year.
Its purpose is to promote death literacy – the practical know-how needed for end of life planning – by breaking down barriers and starting conversations that a decade ago may not have been considered acceptable or appropriate.
Council’s cemeteries team holds conversations with the local community about dying every day, and is embracing the opportunity to encourage conversations about death and dying options, and to provide a platform that will help normalise the discussion for everyone.
“We’re all going to die one day, so equipping ourselves with all the options and opportunities, understanding what’s available, and letting others know our values and wishes, means we can plan ahead and reduce stress on our loved ones,” said Dan Aldridge, MidCoast Council’s Manager Community Spaces, Recreation and Trades.
Council’s Cemeteries team will host a series of Death Cafés across the MidCoast region, along with partners including grief counsellors, funeral directors, palliative care providers, and aged care service providers including MidCoast Assist. Some of the guest speakers joining in on our discussions include Shane McLeay (best-selling author), Beth Anderson (Rest Assured), The Mens Shed, National Australian Loss & Grief Centre, Manning Valley Push for Palliative Care and Great Lakes Hospice.
The café sessions will provide an informal opportunity to obtain information about the services available within the local region, and importantly, to be part of a community-wide discussion about death and loss over coffee and cake.
“It may sound confronting, but calling our drop-in sessions ‘Death Cafés’ is a great way to show that speaking about options for dying is an everyday conversation we can and should be having with our family and friends, whether it’s over coffee, at the dinner table, or at the park,” added Dan.
“Death Cafés are now being held all over the world to encourage people to ask questions and gain information about something that happens to all of us.”
End of life planning can occur at any age, and regardless of our health status. Traditionally uncomfortable subjects such as burial versus cremation are often avoided, and can leave family members and friends making difficult decisions and second-guessing at a time that is already stressful.
In the MidCoast region Death Cafés will be held 5 – 15 August at:
● Tea Gardens Library, Monday 5 August, 10.30am – 12pm
● Taree, Manning Regional Art Gallery, Tuesday 6 August, 10.30am – 12pm
● Gloucester, Arts and Cultural Gallery, Thursday 8 August, 10.30am – 12pm
● Stroud Library, Monday 12 August, 10.30am – 12pm
● Harrington, Multi-function Centre, Tuesday 13 August, 10.30am – 12pm
● Forster Library, Thursday 15 August, 2.30pm – 4pm.
“Come along, bring a friend, and join in a healthy conversation about end of life planning.”
Attending a Death Café event locally is free, and RSVPs are not required. To learn more about Dying to Know Day, visit www.dyingtoknowday.org