For those with big questions about death, dying and funerals, having someone to talk to can be invaluable. But how do you start those conversations, and with whom? There are a growing number of café spaces which bring people together to do just that – this page tells you more about GraveTalk, launched through the Church of England. The Church of England has been helping people think about these questions for centuries. GraveTalk is a café space where people can talk about these big questions. The conversation is helped along by GraveTalk conversation cards – 52 questions covering 5 key areas.
Topics covered include:
Life: What is important in your life? How would you like to be remembered?
Death: What experiences of death have you had so far? What do you think death means?
Society: How has our culture shaped our thinking about death?
Funerals: What will happen when you die? Do you need to make any plans or choices now?
Grief: What is the reality of loss and how do you experience it?
Events have been held in locations across the country, and people of all ages have gathered to talk and share their thoughts about death, dying and funerals. GraveTalk is a café – so there is always tea and cake.
What happens at a GraveTalk event?
It can take place in a church hall, community centre or even a High Street café. People arriving will be welcomed by the person running the event, and then invited to sit at tables with three or four others. The GraveTalk cards will be on the tables, and each group picks a question and uses it start a conversation. It doesn’t matter if you only use one question – or work through all of them! The purpose is to talk and listen. Light refreshments are offered throughout the event, which lasts about an hour, or longer if needed.
NOTE Although these materials have been created for church groups, they work well with people of all faiths or none.
email: email@example.com or phone Maggie on 07932 354055
Experience to date
A planning group has been established: an ad hoc group drawn from attenders at the Fareham Quaker Worshipping Group and other individuals, some from churches in Fareham and others not. The group includes Rev Carol Gully, Spiritual Care Chaplain from Rowans Hospice.
3 events were held in March 2018: a morning in Imbizo Café, an afternoon in Westbury Manor Museum and an evening in St John’s Church Fareham. Between 13 and 21 people took part, including 7 or 8 from the GraveTalk group. ‘Visitors’ came largely through word of mouth, but a few from posters. The participants found it ‘enjoyable’, ‘an interesting experience’ and ‘valuable because it is not in general an easy subject to discuss’. ‘Humour and laughter were part of the atmosphere’. ‘The simple ground rules ensure that everyone’s opinions are respected and valued and a facilitator on each table ensures no one person can dominate. This is a really “safe” place’.
The positive feedback from the first three sessions has encouraged us to offer three further GraveTalk sessions in the Museum from 2 to 4 pm on 11 June and 9 July. This will be called ‘Tea, Cake and Conversation’, but will use the GraveTalk cards.
We are committed to the concept
We may well continue to offer occasional sessions in Fareham
People come largely through word of mouth – more than through general advertising
Perhaps the greatest potential to reach people is by working through existing groups?
Can we ‘cascade’ GraveTalk by helping others to run sessions in different contexts?
Running a GraveTalk session requires
- Experience of participating in a GraveTalk session before you run one!
- Being clear that this is not a bereavement or counselling group
- Maybe someone to help with the first session – the Fareham GraveTalk group might be able to help
- A facilitator, a host, and at least one other person – maybe one facilitator for each table
- A pleasant venue – with tables which seat perhaps 4 to 6 people
- Nice coffee/tea and cake/biscuits – either freely provided or available for participants to buy
- The GraveTalk conversation cards
A simple structure for the event – perhaps using the GraveTalk Facilitators’ Guide which includes suggestions on how to conduct a session. We can provide a ‘useful contacts’ booklet if that is helpful
Conversation cards £12.99 and GraveTalk Facilitators’Guide £3.99, from Church House Bookshop (£19.98, incl p&p)
Two-minute ‘video’ www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/grave-talk