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Death Café in Dorset: thinking “inside” the box!


Dorset Humanists hosted its second Death Café event on Saturday 11th May which, in typical fashion, involved roundtable discussions on all aspects of death, and the consumption of large quantities of cake. Around thirty people attended and lots of conversations were enjoyed, as participants shared thoughts about their eventual “demise”.


Discussions included humanist favourites such as assisted dying, humanist celebrants and ceremony options, and we also explored the practicalities of keeping your records up to date, how our bodies should be disposed of (in an environmentally-friendly way if possible), what kind of ceremony (if any) was desired, technical aspects of wills, and passwords, money and where to store your end-of-life documents.



David with two of our oldest members - Anne and Angela who are both in their nineties. Anne told us that she wants Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Mozart's Requiem played at her ceremony. Simon told us he has written extensive notes about his mother Angela's life - but Angela is worried he may have got some facts wrong!

The idea of “living wakes” was also popular. This is an option for those who know their time is near to actually hold their wake before they depart, so that they can take part. Some of our members have attended one of these, which took the form of afternoon tea in a local hotel. It was very well-attended and a huge success. One lady, who doesn't know her end date, has opted to have one of these annually until the end, just to be sure!


Other themes discussed included colourful clothing at the ceremony, recording a “last message” in a video, and compostable coffins made from cardboard, which mourners can sign or write final messages on. The importance of holding open and frank conversations about your wishes with family and friends was also highlighted.


It was a good event which definitely “lifted the lid” on the often taboo topic of death. One participant suggested that we could host a Sex Café in the future. Dorset Humanists is thinking about that!

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