Paul Broome (left) from St Michael's Hospice, and Ian Archer, the Chief Executive of the Courtyard, where the Death Cafe is held

Death Cafe alive and well in Hereford

Monthly drop-In sessions cover all aspects of dying

Breaking down the stigma of death is alive and well at a café organised by St Michael’s Hospice.

The Death Café is a drop-in evening held at the Courtyard arts venue in Hereford each month.

It follows a national movement allowing those attending to open up about all aspects of dying.

One of those who went to a recent session in Hereford for the first time was St Michael’s Hospice Communications Officer, Paul Broome, who says the evening provided plenty of food for thought.

‘I wasn’t sure what to expect when attending Death Café but there were two things that struck me,’ he said.

‘Firstly, there was a tremendous range of topics covered. ‘You might think death is a pretty open and shut matter, but there are many different issues surrounding it.

‘The second thing that surprised me was the amount of laughter throughout the two hours I was there. Yes, there were serious parts for debate, but a great deal of levity, too.’

Death cafés in England are the brainchild of Jon Underwood who started the first one in the UK in his London home. The movement has now expanded throughout the country.

Hereford’s first Death Café started during ‘Dying Matters Awareness Week’ in May 2014 and has met monthly since.

Topics covered during the discussions are wide-ranging and can vary from the spiritual side of death to its practicalities for relatives.

Recent topics have also covered writing your own eulogy.   

‘I’ve always liked the saying ‘Rather than putting years into your life, put life into your years’, said Mary Taylor  from St Michael’s, who helps run the free sessions.

‘The aim of the café is to challenge the fear and mystique of death and dying, and a place to talk about it without embarrassment.

‘It’s for people who are aware but have no way of talking to others about it.’

The next Death Café takes place on Wednesday, 15th March.

It begins at 6pm at the Courtyard, off Edgar Street, and will last about two hours.