Sunday, 4 May 2014

Death Cafe - because you only do it once (but you always succeed)

Imagine a café where you can relax with a nice cuppa, a slice of delicious cake and chat about…death.

Admittedly not your stereotypical setting for afternoon tea or a first date but one that Lancaster University’s International Observatory for End of Life Care is keen to promote.

The aim of a Death Cafe is to get people to discuss what many would class as ‘unmentionable’.  It is one of many events being held in Lancaster to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from 12th to 17th May.

The Death Café will be held on Tuesday 13 May from 11.30am to 1.30pm in the foyer of the Furness Building on the Lancaster University campus (see venue directions below).  Observatory staff and students, who all have a background in nursing, social work and other related fields, will serve drinks and cakes and stimulate discussion around death and dying.  Attendance is free of charge, but donations towards running costs will be very welcome.

The event is being organised by Observatory staff Janet Rigby and Sean Hughes.  Janet, who has been a palliative care nurse for 20 years and who is a Research Associate at the Observatory, said:  “The name Death Café is startling at first but it certainly promotes discussion. 

“This is a project designed to get people talking about death with the intention of helping them make the most of their lives and to ensure that others around them are aware of their wishes and preferences.”

Sean, a Research Associate who has a background in hospice social work and bereavement care, added: “This is a very sensitive area but we hope people will be curious about it and that it will stimulate questions and make people think. 

“When death is not discussed it can cause all sorts of problems when people don’t actually know what their relatives want.

“This is an open forum. It is definitely not about counselling or bereavement support, nor is it linked to any religious perspective or research project.”

Death Cafes have been run in Hackney, Chester and at the Royal Festival Hall in the UK. They were founded by Jon Underwood, who is supporting the Lancaster University event, and are based on the Swiss-style 'Cafe Mortels'.

The Lancaster University International Observatory on End of Life Care, established in 2003, is an internationally renowned centre of excellence for research into palliative and end of life care, led by Professor Sheila Payne, the President of the European Association for Palliative Care, and Dr Catherine Walshe.
Please email Janet at to book your place (for catering purposes)
A map of the university campus can be downloaded here.  Furness Building is no. 42 on the map.

For more information about Death Café go to:
The Dying Matters website can be found at:    
More information on Lancaster University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care can be found at:

1 comment:

narrowboat mick said...

How amazing.death is a fantastic reminder of our even more fantastic existence.