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Dublin: 15°C Monday 20 September 2021

The death café is coming to Dublin

Don’t worry, it’s not as worrying as it sounds.

Abortion Committee. Pictured leaving Le Judge Catherine McGuinness Source: Wanderley Massafelli

A POP-UP ‘DEATH café’ will feature as part of an event planned for Dublin Castle later this summer.

It’s part of an effort, backed by retired Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness, to get people talking about death and dying.

“Young people don’t think about death,” McGuinness said, announcing the September conference.

“Middle age ignores it.

“There are things to look forward to – starting a family, buying a house, retirement.

“The reality is we never know what is around the corner.

As sure as we have been born, we will die, and we have to stop turning a blind eye to this fact of life.

What is a death café?

Based on a Swiss model, the first death cafe was opened in London in 2011.

Speaking to The Guardian in March of last year, Jon Underwood – who set the café up with his mother, a psychotherapist – explained that it was about encouraging people to talk about death in a relaxed environment.

The idea has captured people’s imaginations, as the article explained:

“It was a great success and interest grew, leading to the events, which are usually about an hour long, popping up in a range of venues from cafes and private houses to a cemetery and a yurt.

The premise was simple: people go along, drink tea, eat cake and discuss death: not to be morbid, just to raise awareness and to “help people make the most of their (finite) lives”.

shutterstock_122177932 Source: Shutterstock/Nickolastock

Funeral planning 

Katherine Sleeman, a lecturer in palliative care medicine at Kings College in London will also address the event on ‘having a good death’.

“We are all going to die,” she said.

And while medical science has been getting better and better, she maintains “many aspects of death and dying have reciprocally become worse and worse”.

Dying has become a casualty of medicine’s triumphs: medicalised, sterilised, institutionalised and interventionalised.

Journalist Mick Heaney, son of the late Seamus Heaney, will also speak at the event. There will also be workshops on areas like ‘conversations at end of life’ and funeral planning.

Judge McGuinness is Chair of ‘The National Council of the Forum on End of Life in Ireland’ – which is run by the The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF).

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