The idea of being comfortable talking about death in our day to day lives is missing, Krista Cadieux believes, in most western communities.
“In a lot of ways, we are a culture not exposed to the ageing. We often don’t live in the same community or house as our parents and grandparents. We don’t know what to do or how to cope with the idea of ageing and dying,” Cadieux explains. “We have a lot of euphemisms for dying, talking about how people have passed on or that we’ve lost them, rather than just saying someone is dead.”
Living in a society where the fear of ageing is palatable means youth and the ability to look younger than ones age is celebrated.
“If someone is 60 but looks 40, we congratulate them,” Cadieux says. “While being healthy is great, why can’t someone just look and be 60? How do we just talk about the fact we are all eventually going to die?”
As a death midwife, Cadieux knows first hand the reality that death is inevitable. Cadieux’s job is to help people plan and organize their end of life; be it finances, funerals, or emotional support.
“Death has become an industry. People don’t know about a lot of alternative options,” Cadieux says. Through her work as a death midwife, she hopes to educate people on the options available to them.
With this passion for aiding people transition out of this life and the realization that death is a taboo subject, Cadieux decided to host Revelstokes first Death Cafe.
“It’s an inclusive space for anyone to talk about death. There is no agenda,” Cadieux says. Free tea, coffee and cake will be available for all, though if you would like a speciality coffee or drink they will be served at regular price.
The notion of a Death Cafe was the brain child of Jon Underwood and Sue Barksy Reid, who were inspired by the work of Bernard Crettaz. Crettaz aimed to change the dialogue and consumerism he felt surrounded death in today’s culture. Run as a social franchise, the first Death Cafe was hosted in the United Kingdom in 2011.
Anyone can host a Death Cafe as long as they follow a specific set of guidelines. A Death Cafe is always not for profit, hosted in a respectful space, and there can be no intention of leading people to any specific course of action or conclusion. Additionally, a Death Cafe is not meant to be a grief workshop or session.
“There are no speakers, the conversation isn’t being led by anyone. It’s wide open,” Cadieux explains.
Cadieux feels one of the best things about being comfortable around death and what she hopes to promote with the Death Cafe is the positive life affirming effect it has on your life.
“There is a common consensus among hospice workers and medical professionals that if you talk about death and contemplate it regularly, you live a full life on a day to day basis. You make the most of the life you have because you know it will end,” she says.
For anyone curious to check out the Death Cafe, head down to the Sangha Bean at 6:30pm on Thursday, February 25th. The discussion will start at 7pm.