Column: Your chance to talk openly about death

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If you think of life being a journey, then death is the inevitable end of your finite travels.

We will all die at some point, but the important thing is to try and plan for a good death and that means talking to your loved ones while you can, so they understand your wishes.

Such discussions won’t be easy for most people. It’s far simpler to put the thought aside for another day. But thinking ahead can make things better when the time comes.

Today is the start of Dying Matters Week, which every year raises awareness of this important subject.

This year’s theme is ‘what can you do in your community?’ My colleagues at NHS Doncaster CCG have done their bit by organising something called a Death Café.

The idea will seem unusual, but its motives are very practical. It’s simply a place where people, often strangers, can gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.

Death Cafes are helping to remove the taboo associated with talking about death and showing that it’s nothing to be scared of. They aim to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement so they can make plans for their end of life.

They are not permanent businesses like high street cafes. You can hold one anywhere and there is even a downloadable guide to help to plan and run one.

The UK’s first Death Café was held in 2011 in the London home of Jon Underwood - one of the joint founders of the concept. Since then more than 6,000 have been held in nearly 60 countries.

On Thursday 17 May, 10am – 12 noon, our first Death Café will take place at Doncaster Museum, on Chequer Road. It’s free, totally informal, and you have an open invitation from me to come along and find out more.

My CCG colleague Michelle Rhodes - pictured looking at some of the museum’s death related artefacts - has helped organise the event. Michelle recently won a baking competition at work and will be providing some of her delicious home made cakes.

Amongst the topics under discussion will be digital assets and digital legacy. Like me, you’ll probably have lots of precious photo and other memories stored on mobile phones and computers. Would your loved ones know how to access them when you’re gone?

You can join in the discussion or simply sit back and listen to what others have to say. I’ll be there, why don’t you join me?

* More at Dying Matters/Awareness Week and Death Cafe