Coffee clubs to openly discuss and overcome fear of death grow in popularity
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It’s not a topic that’s usually discussed among strangers.
“Have you ever been with someone while they were dying, how did you feel?” asks Mitchell Jansen.
However, at the Death Café in Hobart, Tasmania, nothing is off the table.
People here freely discuss their last moments with a loved one.
“He was 87. And I was very lucky and fortunate to be able to go over to Germany and be with him,” says one participant.
The group also addresses what they would do faced with terminal illness.
“You are diagnosed with a serious cancer, you want your doctors to a) lay it all on the line, b) just focus on next steps and not overwhelm me,” says another participant, reading from a card.
It’s an opportunity for people to come together and talk about a topic that is taboo.
“There are people who do want to speak about it and they get push back in some places,” says co-founder of the Tassie Death Café, Leigh Connell.
And everyone is there for a very different, personal reason.
Jansen has cystic fibrosis and has had to come to terms with his own mortality early in life.
“It’s nice knowing that I’m not the only that had that fear. Even though it’s a very common fear, it still feels lonely,” says Jansen.
And Nikita Harris originally worked in aged care where she had the privilege to be with people in their final moments.
“It made me question what happens, after you pass away,” says Harris.
The Death Café movement began in the UK in 2011.
Since then it’s estimated over 14,000 meetings have been held in 81 countries all over the world.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was part of the curriculum, Australian curriculum, to just really teach the children, right from the beginning to become death literate,” says co-founder of the café, Lynn Redwig.
And while it might seem morbid, there’s still room for laughter when this group meets.