‘Death Cafe’ hosted by Sheffield Hallam University

Death cafe
By James Morrell
The Death Cafe, an event where people meet to talk openly about death and dying, has been hosted by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with St Luke’s Hospice.

The Death Café, which forms part of Dying Matters Awareness week, included an opportunity to make a memory box and a chance to pin your bucket list to a wishes tree.

There was also a showing of a new animated feature, ‘Dying to Talk.’

The whole premise of a Death Café is to get people together over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake to talk openly about dying; how we would live our final days, who we would spend them with and what we want to achieve in life before our death.

Dr Julie Skilbeck, a senior lecturer in adult nursing at Sheffield Hallam University: “When I told my children I’d set up a Death Café, they thought it was a bit morbid; but when I explained to them that it doesn’t have to be morbid when we talk about death, that it’s something we need to discuss, they understood.

“We don’t often think about our own mortality, what our wants and wishes might be in the last few years of our lives.”

Alongside the interactive games and arts and crafts, Keeble Hawson solicitors, John Heath and Sons funeral directors and South Yorkshire Organ Donation Team were available to offer advice and guidance.

St Luke’s Hospice, who also had a stall at the event, caters for people who have a terminal diagnosis, whether they’re given five years or five days.

“It’s healthy to talk about death” said Mike Reeder, senior chaplain at St Luke’s Hospice, “the Death Café seeks to help people understand a bit more about one of the only certainties of life. We all talk about sex, but not about death.”

Noni Bryson, fundraiser at St Luke’s Hospice, said: “It’s especially important for young people to talk openly about death and remove some of the taboo from the subject. It’s valuable for us to realise and accept that death is something that happens.”

Sheffield Hallam University have also ran a series of twitter conversations entitled ‘virtual cafés’. Monday’s topic was ‘Create Your Own Bucket List’, Tuesday’s was ‘Advanced Care Planning’. Today’s topic is ‘Digital Legacy’. Have you ever wondered what will happen to your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook account when you die? The discussion takes place @SHUendoflife.




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