Pushing back against denial – the Death Cafe approach

Talking about death was once normal, then it became un-normal – taboo – with the advent of what is now a death denying society. But the pushback is gaining momentum.

Picture: Mitchell Jansen

In: Tassie Death Cafe helps visitors come to terms with the ‘morbid fear’ surrounding life’s end, Tamara Glumac, (ABC News, 28 Aug 2022) tells how ‘Mitchell Jansen has feared death from a young age.’

The 25-year-old has suffered anxiety and panic attacks over his own mortality.

“I’ve had a very morbid fear of death because I have cystic fibrosis, so death kind of looms over my head a bit,” Mr Jansen said. “It was a constant fear, I was always filled with dread, it was like I’m going to die young, and with the pandemic I’m at high risk.”

A trip to the Tassie Death Cafe in Hobart has lightened the load.

“I feel like I’ve been heard and it feels like a weight is off my shoulders. I have a sense of what I want when I die,” Mr Jansen said. “Even though [death] is a very common fear it still feels lonely and just being around like-minded people, where I can have my morbid jokes, is a bit nicer.”

The death of his great-grandmother prompted Mr Jansen to take a trip to the death cafe, and has also created a desire to work in the funeral industry.

Tassie is fortunate to not only have Death Cafes but also coffin clubs that help prise open death’s door

At the Community Coffin Club, laughter, music, food and shared experience abound as members build their understanding of “death literacy” — and their own bespoke coffins. A man stands inside an upright blue coffin designed to look like Dr Who’s tardis.

The death cafe — a monthly catch-up over coffee and cake, often between complete strangers — has been running since 2019.

It was set up by end-of-life doulas Leigh Connell and Lynn Redwig, who got talking about the concept at a “dying to know” expo.

“It’s very simple. The aim is really to come together and talk about death and dying in a safe space,” Ms Connell said.

“It’s an opportunity for people to talk about something that’s quite taboo, and there are people who do want to speak about it, but they get pushback.”

Read more here: Tassie Death Cafe

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