Palliative care nurse encourages people to come along to hospital Death Cafe to help reduce our fear of dying

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Bridget D’Aliessio, a palliative care nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, has encouraged local people to join the Trust’s next Death Cafe, which will be held at King George Hospital on Tuesday 10 December from 11.30am to 12.30pm, in the Cedar Centre.

Death Cafes are an open forum for people to discuss death while enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake. They aim to help people become more comfortable talking about dying. Monthly Death Cafes were introduced at the Trust following successful events held during Dying Matters Awareness Week earlier this year.

Bridget, who has worked at the Trust for almost 30 years, was curious about Death Cafes, so went along to her first one in April.

She said:

I understand they may not be for everyone. But they’re important to break down barriers and reduce our fear around death. While death of course can be sad, it can be positive too.

It’s about breaking down one of our biggest taboos head on and the name really does what it says on the tin. They’re about anything and everything related to death and dying, including discussions about pets, poetry, or what to do with a loved one’s ashes. I find they can be really light-hearted, and fun. 

Death happens to us all and talking about it won’t make it happen any quicker.”

Along with her colleagues in the Trust’s Palliative Care team, Bridget helps to facilitate Death Cafes. She is passionate about the important role they play in breaking taboos around death, especially as by talking more openly about dying, we can ensure terminally ill patients voice what they want in their last weeks or months.

Bridget added:

I’m in a privileged position as often patients will share things with me that they feel they can’t with their families. I find that humbling. And I enjoy making a difference, which in some cases, can be thanks to really small things.

“A lady I was looking after recently only had a little time left, and she had a really simple request – she fancied a cup of Bovril.”

The Trust’s Death Cafes are run by Gemma Norburn, from the Mortuary team. Anyone is welcome to go along and see what they’re all about.

Find out more about Death Cafes online https://deathcafe.com/.

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