The Death Cafe Experience

Death Cafe sign at the Poughkeepsie Library.

Have you heard of a Death Cafe?  Having originated in the UK, death cafes are popping up everywhere stateside and offers a great place to have a conversation about death in all its capacity.  There is no agenda, no set topics, no religion was pushed, it isn’t meant as therapy… it was just a simple, straight-forward gathering to have open conversations about death and to help dispel the taboo nature of it all. In the past, death was talked about more freely by society.  Epidemics, disasters,  and war made death a daily reality and it was more wide and openly discussed but as medical technology emerged that extended the human lifespan, our mortality became an underground topic.  But we should talk about it… A LOT… openly and honestly with friends and family so when the time does come, everyone is prepared and on the same page as to one’s final wishes.

I recently attended one in Poughkeepsie at the library and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and came away thinking about death and how it affects everyone differently.  My own views have been affected by certain events in my life, religion, genealogy, and my “real life” job. To see others had the same/similar things that changed their views of death too, was somewhat of a comforting relief.  I have always seen death differently, not a terrible, fearful event but an inevitable beginning to a hopeful new adventure. And never being afraid to talk about it, doesn’t always make you a popular choice for a companion or friend.  (shrug)

The Importance of Speaking to the Living

Dad with great grand-daughter Mia!

I cannot stress the importance of speaking to your living relatives NOW before it’s too late. In my genealogy course I taught, that was practically my first tip to my students and right now, I’m truly needing to practice what I preach. My dad suffered a stroke last week and while he is expected to fully recover, for a while he was missing time, could not remember his only great-granddaughter, nor her name. He thought for a bit that he was still working at the place he worked at when I was a kid… so he was missing about 30 years there for a few days. It’s coming back to him and even today I quizzed him on a few relatives I had planned on doing an interview with him in October when I’m there for my daughter’s wedding but now, it’s even more pressing for me to make sure I ask absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted to know before it’s too late.

Shared Hobbies & Interests – #52stories

I was extremely happy to see Family Search #52stories writing prompt this week because I have had it on my list for some time to write about my grandma, Clara Lou Peters Stewart. My love of music and singing can likely be attributed to her. My love of big band music came from watching her bobby-socking in the kitchen at a 4th of July party one year! She was one amazing piano & organ player. I have oodles of newspaper clippings from her younger days playing in school concerts and I daresay, she likely played at the wedding of nearly half of Pickaway County during her lifetime! I have so many memories of family holiday gatherings where she would hop on the organ in the corner of the dining room after a meal and play/sing for us.