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Head down to King George Hospital's death cafe next week to find a lighter side to life's grimmest topic

PUBLISHED: 15:00 04 December 2019

Bridget D’Aliessio, a palliative care nurse who oversees the Death Cafe. Picture: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

Bridget D'Aliessio, a palliative care nurse who oversees the Death Cafe. Picture: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust

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Get over your fear of dying and come along to a Death Cafe at King George Hospital in Goodmayes to have a cuppa and some cake and find the surprising positive side to the taboo topic.

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

Monthly Death Cafes were introduced at the trust following successful events held during Dying Matters Awareness Week earlier this year and they are an open forum for people to discuss death in a friendly environment.

Bridget, who has worked at BHRUT 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.

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"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."

Bridget said the sessions can be really light-hearted and fun.

She said: "Death happens to us all and talking about it won't make it happen any quicker."

The Death Cafes play an important role in breaking taboos around death and our final moments, particularly as it ensures 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."

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

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