When people ask me what I do, I say ‘Death and Sex’. They look at me inquisitively and I explain.
For part of the week I am raising awareness of death, dying and grief and the other part of the week I am working with young people supporting them around relationships and sexual health. But isn’t that a strange combination? Not at all.
Many people feel uncomfortable talking openly about both death and sex. However, the skills we need to have these conversations, and the way we approach these discussions, are the same.
I originally trained as a Nurse but quickly realised that my passion and interest lay in Public Health. After completing a Msc in Health Promotion and Health Education I spent the next 10 years working in the NHS and Civil Service in a range of strategic and management positions mainly focusing on teenage pregnancy and young people’s sexual health.
In 2004, I left the public sector to set up my own business. The initial focus of my business was on sexual & reproductive health. However, in 2011, my work began to include end of life care and end of life care planning and so my passion for talking openly about death, dying and grief began.
For the last 15 years I have worked on a range of innovative projects that promote open conversations about death, dying, end of life care planning and grief, and that also support people to put their end of life plans in place. I also design and deliver training and workshops for both practitioners and local people.
I have worked in the public and charity sectors for over twenty years with roles in communication, training and volunteer and service management. Like many people, my paid work combined with unpaid work – caring for children and for an older family member.
Through my own experience and those of colleagues and friends, I became increasingly aware of the stress of juggling these competing priorities and how undervalued care is. This growing awareness intersected with an innovative project that promoted opportunities to talk about planning for end of life and challenged the taboo of talking about death, dying and grief.
This led me to train as a Funeral Celebrant which further enhanced my awareness of how much need there is for safe spaces to talk openly and safely about our experience and feelings around death, dying and grief.
I combine my role as Director of Creating Conversations CIC with a role as Head of Services for a local charity that works with and for older people. I also provide funeral and memorial celebrancy and celebration life writing.
I have been attending Creating Conversations’ Death Cafes for a couple of years and find them to be wonderfully positive spaces for honest and open conversation with strangers. Death Cafes create a deep sense of human connection and I feel grateful to be a part of holding space for this.
I am an artist, metal patination technician, life coach and End of Life Companion and believe strongly that in regular contemplation of our deaths we grasp how precious our life is and what matters most to us. You can find out more and work with me here:
Hi, my name’s Jon and I have been a table host for the North East London Death Cafe since it began in-person meetings in early 2021.
I started attending various Death Cafes in early 2020 as I had a need to gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of death.
As a table host, it’s a privilege to speak and listen to a wide range of people with differing experiences, feelings and approaches towards death.
Every meeting throws up new and invigorating conversations along with keen insight and, perhaps surprisingly, great humour.
I hope everyone will gain as much benefit as I have done from attending Creating Conversations events!
Being a table host has been so eye opening as every cafe is so different and the conversations so varied. It’s a great way to hear different experiences and gain perspective.
I have worked and volunteered with vulnerable adults at the later/end stages of life and have found Death Cafes a wonderful space to discuss those questions, joys and fears about life and what comes next.
I have been attending the Creating Conversations Death Cafes over the past year and enjoy being in a supportive space where one can openly and honestly talk about death, dying and grief. There is never any expectation or judgement, and I always leave feeling calm and grounded afterwards. Every meeting is so different, and the varied range of experiences, perspectives and approaches to contemplating life and death are insightful, inspiring and sometimes surprisingly funny too.
Working on education interventions for vulnerable young people and adults, I see the importance of having such death-positive spaces that enable people to process very complex thoughts and feelings.
It is a privilege to support Creating Conversations in this work.