Death Cafe Founder, Jon Underwood, Dies at 44

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Jon Underwood personally.  I interviewed him a few years ago to learn about  Death Cafe.  Being in the process of founding a similar kind of venture, I sought like-minded others.  I really wanted to hear their stories.  Jon was one of them.  I wanted to learn what it had been like for him to walk, quite literally, into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  He strode boldly and publicly into such conversations, complete with tea and cake, in 2011.

Death Cafe discussions now take place from Australia to Nigeria and every place in between.  As of this writing, there have been 4836 Death Cafe discussions in 51 countries.  And these are just the ones registered on the Death Cafe website.

What was it that motivated him?  More importantly, why?

As I recall, he explained it something like this: the monsters in the closet are only scary until we shed light on them.  Jon felt (and I do, too) that talking about Death in a very real and personal way ultimately makes those conversations less uncomfortable.  More than that, something kind of amazing begins to take place: a deeper, more thoughtful appreciation for life in all its forms starts to develop.  And then to flourish.

Death, Dying

Dying Matters.  A lot.

People say it’s too hard to talk about dying.  Honestly, it’s easier than you think.  Particularly if you or a loved one aren’t actually in the throes of doing it while trying to start the conversation.

Seniors frequently say to me they want to talk about it with their kids, but the kids don’t want to.  Adult children often say to me they want to talk about it with their folks, but the folks don’t want to.  When I hear this, I have to wonder whether either has actually tackled the subject with the other and who is really doing the avoiding!

I’m pretty certain that Jon Underwood did not imagine in 2011 that he would die in 2017 at the age of 44, leaving behind his wife, his children, and a world full of people who understand what he was trying to accomplish.  And I’m also feeling certain that his having talked openly about dying hasn’t lessened the incredible shock his family currently experiences with this  kind of a loss.

Talking About Dying Matters a Lot, Too

Here’s what I do know.  He’s left behind a legacy of openness and authenticity that’s hard to argue with.  He’s given his family, friends, and thousands of others across the globe a creative way to address the elephant in the living room.  That means something.  And that’s what life and death are: the meaning we make of it.

Here’s the bonus: Damariscotta Death Cafe has been meeting monthly for four years and is as lively and strong as ever.  Join in the fun on the second Monday of each month at Savory Maine, 9:00am.  No agenda.  No taboos.

Here’s to you, Jon.  I hope wherever you are now, there’s tea, cake, and heartfelt conversation.

 

Love, Death

First Home Care Training Class Graduates!

SIX HOME CARE PROVIDERS COMPLETE TWENTY HOUR EXCELLENCE IN CARE-GIVING CLASS

Training came to a close today after twenty hours of training spread over a five week period. Class participants learned a range of handy skills for in-home care-giving. Lincoln Home’s Giving Excellent Care in the Home: From Our Home to Yours curriculum centers on simple but important skills that boost confidence and help home care givers gain insight.

Class topics cover a broad range of skills. Right from the start students jump in with both feet, taking on subjects like personal values, home safety, and how to help granny with her dentures. Learning different skills and techniques help students become more confident providers.

I ENJOYED THE ACTIVITIES AND GAMES. THAT REALLY ENHANCED my training.

Student feedback helps us know what we’re doing well and what we can do better. It’s exciting to hear how the class was received, and even more exciting to know we’ve made a difference in our community with this class offering.

I gained so much through this class. I now have a different perspective and feel more confident caring for my stepfather.

I liked the way we reviewed chapters after reading them. It felt easier to take in the lessons that way.

I learned about all aspects of daily living. I gained a lot of new information and recognize that every care-giving situation is going to be different. This class is fantastic!

I liked the interaction with other students during activities.

We all got off to a good start that provided ease of sharing information and asking questions.

I learned a lot about care-giving. The biggest lesson I take away from this class is “someone else’s emergency is not my emergency.”

Please stay tuned. Lincoln Home will offer this course again in the fall of 2017.  Watch our Facebook page for the event posting!