No one talks about it at cocktail parties. We don’t discuss it with strangers. And yet, death, long a taboo topic, is a top subject all over the world.
On Wednesday, April 25 and every fourth Wednesday through August, leadership and transitions expert Tess Lorraine takes death and dying out of the closet with a series with café-style discussions at Vintage House.
With enlightened frankness and sensitivity, she’ll lead conversations about aging, quality of life, making important end-of-life decisions and much more.
Lorraine, with a degree in dance therapy, certification as a Craniosacral Therapist, Master Practitioner and trainer of Neurolinguistic Programming and decades of training and experience in other specialties, spearheads northern California’s conversations about death. She is also a death doula (an end-of-life companion, another emerging specialty) and a facilitator for Medical Advocacy.
The topic of death is often culturally taboo, yet central to the quality of our lives as we age and make our most important choices. For most of us, combining the words “death” and “café” seems a little out of kilter. Using the idea of a fun trip to a café to discuss how to die is a new way to break the ice. Americans in particular shy away from frank discussions about death.
“It’s a café-style venue where we talk about matters of living and dying,” Lorraine reports. Using ongoing seminars and retreats, she provides an in-depth approach to preparing for final passages.
Although not everyone has a fear of death, many of us have fears about the stages around death and dying, she says. But conversations in an informal—but informed—social gathering do much to dispel the lack of understanding.
Some of the questions Lorraine ask to launch energetic conversations include, how will people remember me? How will I survive the death of someone close to me? What rituals do I care about, and how should my body to be handled? What legal changes in the right to die question, especially in California, are important now? Will I leave confusion and unintended consequences after I’m gone? One of the best ways to understand these concerns and their answers is to talk about them—with each other and with experts—to demystify and inform one another.
“We sit at tables, talk openly together, share stories, hopes, fears, and explorations around our life passages,” Lorraine says. She believes that looking at death as a transformative tool for living fully, aging consciously, and dying peacefully creates a lasting legacy for others. “I’m grateful to be doing work where I encourage people to embrace aging,” she says.
Initial ideas about death cafés began about 2004 in France and England; since then discussions have taken place in over 52 countries. Based on the ideas of Bernard Crettaz, variations exist with a singular goal of speaking openly in informal settings, from living rooms to yurts in Central Asia.
For more information on Lorraine’s work and schedules contact her at [email protected] and visit her website: Awakeningtolifeanddeath.com.
Register for the series at Vintage House, 996-0311, or at the front desk, 264 First St. E.