LGBT Ireland to co-host country's first LGBTQ+ Death Café

"The subject of Death and Dying remain shrouded in anxiety and fear – the only way to change this is to encourage more open discussion about grief, trauma and loss."

Two people having a drink in a café.
Image: Pexels

LGBT Ireland has joined forces with the Irish Hospice Foundation, the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care & Shapes of Grief programme founder Liz Gleeson to host an LGBTQ+ Death Café as part of Palliative Care Week 2022.

On Friday, September 16, at the Pearse Street Library, attendees will gather over coffee and cake and discuss their feelings about different aspects of end of life.

The theme of the Death Café is ‘PRIDE in Death– A Chat with Strangers’ and the purpose is to give members of the LGBTQ+ community a space to talk about things regarding death and dying that they may not be able to bring anywhere else.

Speaking on the event, LGBT Ireland CEO Paula Fagan said: “We have come such a far way recently in encouraging and empowering people to be open about their mental health needs, yet it is apparent that the subject of Death and Dying remains shrouded in anxiety and fear – the only way to change this is to encourage more open discussion about grief, trauma and loss.”

No individual member of the LGBTQ+ community is defined by their membership in it. Sexual orientation and gender identity are just an aspect of the whole person. However, LGBTQ+ people have often lived lives filled with unique challenges and blessings, experiencing a history of oppression, and struggling for acceptance and respect which can lead to both resilience and sorrow.

LGBT Champion and End-of-Life Care Coordinator St James’s Hospital Bettina Korn will assist in the facilitation of the Death Café.

“In my role, I have had many such conversations with patients and their loved ones; oftentimes unfortunately very late in someone’s end-of-life journey. Taking part in a Death Café enables participants to have such profound conversations in a safe and supportive environment, with like-minded people at a time in life when we are able and well to have them in an unhurried way,” Korn said.

The 2011 Visible Lives study which examined the experiences and needs of older LGBTQ+ people in Ireland found that loss and grief were a significant part of participants’ lives. Nearly one in ten reported surviving the death of a partner or spouse of the same sex. Many described how their grief was not acknowledged in the same way the death of an opposite-sex spouse would be.

LGBT Champions Programme Manager James O’Hagan said: “We know that as LGBTQ+ people age and begin to rely to a greater extent on external support services, including hospice care and nursing homes, there is a real concern that these vital services might not protect their LGBTQ+ identity, respect their partners in decision making or may discriminate against them as LGBTQ+ people.

“Let’s talk about death and explore these fears,” he added.

LGBT Ireland hopes these conversations will help all to acknowledge that dying and death are part of life, recognise that talking about death doesn’t bring it closer, but it can help us plan for life and choose the right time and place to talk with our loved ones.

Do you have a will ready? Do you know where you would like to receive care at end of life? Have you thought about body and organ donations? Let’s chat about these things together.

All LGBTQ+ people, young and old, are invited to attend this event, but registration is essential.

  • VENUE: Pearse Street Library, 144 Pearse Street, D02 DE68 Dublin 2
  • DATE: Fri, 16 September 2022
  • TIME: 10 AM – 12:30 PM
  • REGISTRATION: Click here

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