This past weekend, the first Death Cafe conversations were held in Silver City, NM on Saturday, October 12 and in Truth or Consequences (T or C), NM on Sunday, October 13. While the conversations were dramatically different from each other, each was a success in its own way.
The Silver City Death Cafe was held at Javalina Coffee House with four participants in addition to facilitator Gail Rubin with A Good Goodbye. We all fit around one big round table, with plenty of elbow room.
The conversation was generally upbeat. We marveled at the sacred space that surrounds both birth and death, entering and exiting this world. We shared stories of messages of comfort and visions of loved ones who left this physical world old and worn out appearing as young and vital.
There were stories of those who experienced unexpected deaths, and how the loss impacted the storytellers. Both received messages from beyond this world “clear as a bell” that were kind, loving and uplifting.
We discussed rituals, bells, prayer flags, candle lighting and Day of the Dead altars.
Quality of life issues came up, and ADLs, Activities of Daily Living, the hallmarks of how well one is able to care for oneself. They are: eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and continence. Baby boomers seem to strongly agree that they want the control and choice to opt out of life if they get to a point where living is a serious physical or mental challenge.
The next day, October 13 at Black Cat Books and Coffee in Truth or Consequences, we had 13 people participate in a back room at the shop. The conversation focused more on serious healthcare issues, suicide, the nature of life in nursing homes, and options for people with difficult physical conditions, as well as dementia and Alzheimers disease, to seek a painless, peaceful death.
We talked about the importance of having an advocate for a patient, available all the time. That attitude is everything, especially when you get old. How being at one’s own home can provide more healing than being in a nursing home. How hospice support and pain relief are so important for the dying and their families.
In both settings, I provided names of books and organizations that participants would find helpful. One participant suggested making them a standard handout for future Death Cafes. That will go on the list of things to do!