Tea and Cake 'With the End in Mind’ - A Coffee Morning with a Difference

 “Tea and Cake ‘With the End in Mind’ was an eye-opening experience. I didn’t know what to expect from a conversation about death and dying.”

That’s what Derek Willigenburg told us after our recent event, Tea and Cake with ‘The End in Mind’.

In the lead up to Dying Matters Week, we welcomed supporters, volunteers, patients and those that have experienced the death of a loved one to our coffee morning with a difference.  We wanted to encourage an open and honest chat about death and dying – sounds a little morbid – but it was actually fun, lively and laughter-filled.  And of course, in true St Oswald’s Hospice style there was unlimited tea, coffee and an array of delicious cakes – which were certainly ‘to die for!’

Led by Davina Radford, our Spiritual Care Lead and Helen Latham, Soul Midwife, the event held in our Focus on Living Centre, provided an opportunity for people to chat about death and dying in a safe and supportive environment.

Talking about the event, Davina said:

“It was really lovely to welcome people to Tea and Cake ‘With the End in Mind’. We had about 30 people in attendance. We don’t tell people what to discuss, we just encourage open and honest discussions around death and dying.

“Talking about a seemingly taboo subject is important to everybody because if we don’t, we won’t be able make the most of the lives we have got left.”

Helen Latham, who has been working with Davina in the Focus on Living Centre, explained about her work as a Soul Midwife:

“Soul Midwives work really hard to make sure everybody knows what the dying process may look like and help to take the trauma out of being with someone as they die. We also help people who are dying to understand what is happening to them.

“We feel it’s important to help people find the courage to break down the taboo around talking about dying. We live in a world where we’ll deny death – but we do need to have conversations about it.

“Events like Tea and Cake ‘With the End in Mind’,  provide a safe place for people to talk about dying and perhaps make a decision about what they want to do in preparation for their death. It could be that they want to write their will or have conversations with their families and let them know what their wishes might be once they die.”

Dianne Hughes attended the event after her husband, Bob, died at the hospice in summer 2022. Now working as a volunteer in our reception team, Dianne wanted to meet with other like-minded individuals. She said:

“The care Bob received when at St Oswald’s Hospice was just wonderful – every person he encountered spent the time getting to know him on an individual basis. The entire care team helped us to focus on the time we had left together and we were able to create some really special memories together.

“I wanted to come along to Tea and Cake ‘With the End in Mind’ to chat with others who’d also experienced the death of a loved one and to share experiences around that. I found it an excellent event and have come away having made some friends.”

Lionel Joyce, came to the event to support his friend after his friend’s Mum died at the hospice in 2016. A stranger to the hospice and unsure what to expect from the day, Lionel left having enjoyed “valuable discussions”. He explained:

“Today has provided a safe space for me to be vulnerable and open-hearted with people I’ve not met before around the subject of death and dying. I made a great connection with the people sitting at my table and have come to realise that humanity is fundamentally good. Moving forward I’m going to live life to the full.”

Then he added with a cheeky smile…

“I also need to complete my ‘death file’!”

By which he means, the ‘Should the worst happen’ booklet which he picked up whilst at St Oswald’s Hospice.  It’s a practical guide to help you (and your loved ones) make a plan for dying, death and after death.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that attended Tea and Cake ‘With the End in Mind’. Your support means everything and is so important in helping us to raise awareness that hospices are not just for end-of-life care. We’re so much more than people think we are.

Throughout Dying Matters Week, we’re sharing stories and advice to open up the conversation about death and dying to show that it’s not something we should be afraid of talking about – whether with loved ones at home, in the workplace or even with strangers.  

Follow us on social media to find out more and join the conversation.

Find out how you can support us or donate here.

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