Death Cafe Conversations Enlighten Practitioners
Lizzy Miles, MA MSW LSW
Media stories that touch on the topic of death and dying often report, “People don’t want to think or talk about death.” I disagree.
I started out in hospice as a volunteer. I immediately loved the intimacy of companionship to the dying. After a few years, I decided to quit my job in retail credit marketing and go back to school to become a hospice social worker. While in school, my hospice work became my identity; I relished answering the question, “What do you do?” I did often receive looks of fear and mumbled comments such as, “It takes a special person.” But I also noticed something else: There were a significant number of people who saw my reveal as an opportunity to share something deeply personal about themselves related to death. Complete strangers opened up to me in sometimes odd locations: the craft store, the elevator, a poker table in Las Vegas. These strangers weren’t expressing sadness, but rather, relief that they could talk to someone. They were bursting with the desire to share their experiences with death and dying.