There is something a little chilling in the phrase “Death Cafe”. Much of our society has difficulty in dealing with and speaking about dying and death. I went to a seminar once where a palliative care worker asked the audience “Who among you has lost a loved one”. Most hands went up. He went on to ask “Where did you lose him/her? Did you find them again?”. In other words we use phrases that mean death (passed on, passed away or just plain passed) but keep us from having to say the word itself.
A movement known as Death Cafes are popping up in cities across the world. I had never heard of the events until I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen today. From the article “Their (the Cafes) stated purpose is to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” Underwood (who started the movement) held his first one in the basement of his home in September 2011, and since then more than 100 have taken place in homes, cafés and other spaces in Britain, Europe, Canada, the U.S., Australia and elsewhere, with more than 40 hosts and 1,000 guests participating.
I am interested in what these events have to offer. They are very small gatherings. The one in Ottawa has a capacity of 30 people. You can see though that 1,000 people gathering across many nations is really not that many, is it?
I like the idea of celebrating someone’s life regularly after someone has died (as noted in the article above). It helps keep memories alive, pass them on to younger generations and to deal with the permanent loss.
And so I signed up to attend. My husband said (after he asked if our life insurance was paid up) he’d join me.
What do you think of the concept of a Death Cafe? Would you attend if one came to your neighbourhood?
I took the two-wheeler out for a spin a couple of days ago. Here’s the outline of a couple of hours away from the house:
- Method of transport-20 year old Specialized Crossroads bike with two saddlebags. I am very fond of my bike. It has taken me on many a journey over the years.
- First stop-local dry-cleaners. Make the drop-off and spy eye-catching purses, each made from one very long zipper. The manager is from Vietnam and his niece, who is going to university in Vietnam makes the purses. I buy one. Feel good about it. It’s for her education fund, I presume.
- Stop a mailbox to mail completed form to receive more accidental death insurance. Think I should call my husband to let him know I put the envelope in the Canada Post box if someone nails me when I am on the ride. Decide to take my chances and don’t call.
- Ride along the Rideau Canal. Things are just getting started for the year. They were preparing this boat for adventures somewhere along the waterway.
- Take the route that goes by some of the displays of the Ottawa Tulip Festival. Some beds are in their prime, some are getting past their prime. It looks as if there is a pink/purple theme with the tulips this year (first photo below is an exception).
- Pass one bed where workers are digging up bulbs in preparation for annuals that they will plant there for the summer. I stop and ask what they do with the bulbs (hoping they say they give them to people riding by on their bikes). Instead I receive this courteous response “We donate them.”
- Continue on to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, crossing locks, huffing and puffing up some hills and keeping upright. Conduct a bit of business there after the 3 busloads of school children have finished buying their souvenirs. Here’s a view of the backside of Parliament Hill from the Quebec side.
- Meander home via a different route, trying to figure out which streets downtown in Ottawa have bike lanes. I don’t want my estate to collect the accidental death benefit I mailed in earlier in the day.
- Elapsed time: 2 hours, 15 minutes. Distance 31kms. Reward: a cold beer in a frosted glass
I just returned from St. John’s Newfoundland. Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s easternmost province. Its strength and beauty lies in the people who live there. They are friendly, down to earth, full of good humour and proud of their heritage. The province’s economy is on an upswing and downtown St. John’s (capital of the province) shows evidence of the boom.
I was attending a conference in St. John’s and was tardy in booking a hotel room. By the time I made inquiries the rooms were all taken. I found accommodation at At Wit’s Inn, a very comfortable Bed and Breakfast (B&B) a 20 minute walk from the conference hotel. In the end, I am happy to have stayed somewhere unique, quiet and clean, where you are very comfortable and at the same time supporting a small family business. There are 3 rooms in the B&B. I’d stay there again.
Have you ever found a no vacancy sign and then found alternate accommodation and felt you got the better end of the deal?
Here are some pictures: