BU psychiatric nursing to host a pre-Halloween ‘Death Café’

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Ready to talk about death? Few people are. Brandon University is hosting a Death Café next week to help people get comfortable in discussing death and mortality.

While death is a mysterious and often taboo subject in western society, people have questions, thoughts, and feelings about dying and death that they may be reluctant to express.

“A death café is an open forum discussion about death and dying and the thoughts, feelings, and questions we all have but may be reluctant to voice out loud,” said Sharran Mullins, an Assistant Professor in Psychiatric Nursing at BU. She and her third-year palliative care students are facilitating the death café. “I believe that having an opportunity like this will help our students (and us!) develop greater comfort in discussing death and dying, and will foster greater ‘death literacy’ in our community.”

A death café is not grief, individual, or group counselling, she notes. People should come prepared to share their thoughts and contribute to what is sure to be a lively and enlightening discussion.

A death café provides a safe environment in which to talk about death. The death café movement began in 2011 based on the work of Swiss sociologist and anthropologist Bernard Crettaz. Since their invention, death cafés spread quickly across Europe, North America, and Australasia.

“At a death cafe, people gather to eat cake, drink tea/coffee — Let death be not decaffeinated! — and discuss death. The objective is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.  It is an open-forum group discussion of dying and death, with no agenda.  It is a discussion group rather than grief support or counselling, and is not a substitute for these services.

As part of the course “Introduction to Palliative Care”, third-year Psychiatric Nursing students are hosting a death café on Oct. 30 from 7–8:30 p.m. at Brandon University in the Faculty of Health Studies room 043. All are welcome!


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