“Let Them Eat Cake: Death Cafes as Death Education Opportunities for RUN EU Medical Health and Social Care Students”

Stritch, Jennifer Moran (2021) “Let Them Eat Cake: Death Cafes as Death Education Opportunities for RUN EU Medical Health and Social Care Students”.


"Death, loss and grief are inextricably linked to life. However, many societies in the post-modern age are affected by death-denying, death-defying and death-avoidant attitudes and practices, which may leave individuals with limited capacities to manage both the practi cal aspects of end-of-life and dying as well as the grief that can fol low. Death is universal but deeply complicated, and the global ef fects of COVID19 have heightened our individual and collective concerns around our mortality.

Death education refers to various formal and informal educational activities and can include topics such as attitudes toward death, the processes of dying and bereavement, and support for those affected by loss and grief. Death education is critical for preparing care pro fessionals such as nurses, doctors, social workers, social peda gogues, social care workers, psychotherapists, counsellors etc. to effectively support people affected by grief and loss. However, the inclusion of formal death education in training programmes for the care professions is haphazard at best.

One accessible approach to death education is found in the Death Café phenomenon. The Death Café movement provides events where people gather to talk about all aspects of mortality with a fa cilitator and eat cake as a means of celebrating the preciousness of life. The Death Café approach helps people talk about difficult sub jects, increasing self-awareness and potentially reducing death anxi ety as well as death- and grief-avoidant behaviours.

I am proposing a pilot project across RUN-EU institutions that would allow those enrolled in medical/health/social care pro grammes to attend an online Death Café event as part of their coursework, emphasising reflection and personal learning. Partici pants would include fellow students in their own university and col leagues in other countries enrolled in similar courses. This kind of interprofessional experiential education could provide valuable in sights on death and dying from student peers in a relaxed and un pressured atmosphere."

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