MANITOWANING—Death is not welcome in most social circles these days, yet it hasn’t always been this way. For countless generations down through the ages death has been an integral part of the family as it was family members themselves who would deal with the mortal remains of their loved ones.
But it is death, along with life, that inevitably unites the highest and lowest on this earth.
Death and dying are the theme of Debajehmujig’s first Death Café, taking place beginning at 5:30 pm on September 18 at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre located at 43 Queen Street in Manitowaning.
“The overall objective of a Death Café is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives and provide thoughtful opportunity for dialogue about end of life care,” noted organizer Johanna Berti. “The idea is to foster discussion and to share stories rather than a grief support or counselling session. We are offering respectful and confidential bi-cultural space with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action. We are offering delicious food and refreshing drinks to help facilitate comfort, sharing and normalizing a difficult but not morbid topic that will eventually impact everyone.”
The food and other refreshments are free, as is admission to the Death Café and there is no need to reserve seats or secure tickets.
In addition to the food and other refreshments, the evening will begin with opening remarks by David Osawabine who will relay the traditional Anishnabe perspectives on death and dying, followed at 7 pm by ‘An Evening of Grief and Mystery’ featuring acclaimed author and speaker Steven Jenkinson and musician and creator Gregory Hoskins.
According to his Orphan Wisdom website, Mr. Jenkinson “teaches internationally and is the creator and principal instructor of the Orphan Wisdom School, founded in 2010. With Master’s degrees from Harvard University (Theology) and the University of Toronto (Social Work), he is revolutionizing grief and dying in North America. Stephen is redefining what it means to live, and die well.”
Mr. Hoskins is the creator of ‘Nights of Grief and Mystery’ which is described as “in many ways a companion piece to Mr. Jenkinson’s award-winning book ‘Die Wise.’ Most of the material chosen for the disc is not found in ‘Die Wise,’ but is drawn from that time of his working in the world of palliative care.”
The Death Café model was developed by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid in 2010 and is operated entirely by volunteers. Mr. Underwood decided to develop a series of projects about death and one of those projects focusses on talking about death. The methodology incorporated in the Death Café model was developed first by Sue Barky Reid in the U.K. and has since caught on around the world with over 6,817 Death Cafes hosted in 56 countries since September 2011—breathing life into conversations about dying.
Debaj’s Death Café is sponsored by the Manitoulin Island Clinical Teachers Association—Local Education Group (MICTA), an association of medical professionals dedicated to clinical education and high quality holistic health care for the residents of Manitoulin Island.