When I mentioned to a friend what topic I had chosen for the 2018 International NLP Conference, she said “No-one will want to go to that – it’s so morbid!” In a way, that’s exactly why I chose the topic. Not because it is morbid, but because people don’t usually want to talk about death.
And yet all of us are going to experience death one day. It is the inevitable final outcome of our lives, and it is this angle that intrigues me. As NLP practitioners we are accustomed to setting outcomes for all the other areas of life – so what about exploring life’s ultimate outcome?
In a strange way I have been lucky, as I have experienced death in different ways since I was a little child. Since I was 6 years old I have sung in the church choir at the funerals of countless strangers, and I have lost many friends and members of my family over the years. However, when my own father died a couple of years ago, I was completely unprepared for the experience of watching him die, and for the intensity of the grief afterwards.
I turned to my NLP experience to find ways to support myself through this time, and drew great strength from having different resources to help me deal with death.
I modelled the inspirational Bernard Crettaz who originally came up with the idea of “Café Mortels” in Switzerland. His concept was to create safe spaces in which people could meet and talk about death and dying. One of his key beliefs was that talking about death helps us to come to terms with it, to make sense of it and to allay any fears that we might have. He also insisted that the conversation should take place in a friendly surrounding with plenty of cake. The comforting power of carbohydrates seems to be a universal idea.
In the UK, Jon Underwood heard about the work of Bernard Crettaz and used a similar concept to start up a social franchise called “Death Café”. Death Café now exists all over the world, meeting in coffee shops or people’s houses to talk about death while enjoying cake.
And what about you? You may want to spend some time thinking and talking about death for a lot of different reasons:
You may have crossed paths with death already in your life.
Or death may still be a stranger to you.
You may know someone who is dying and want to be prepared for the process.
You may have lost someone you love.
You may be wondering what it will be like when someone close to you dies.
You may be thinking about your own life and its inevitable end.
Or you may have your own, quite different, personal reasons.
Whatever your interest, I hope you will join me at the NLP Conference when I will be using some of the Death Café concepts (with cake) to share thoughts about death, dying and bereavement and specifically to explore some of the different ways in which NLP can provide resources at this time.
If you join me for this session, you will discover:
At least five different NLP resources to help.
Which overlooked “part” often needs to be given a voice after a bereavement, and how to help it express itself.
Frank Farrelly’s simple provocative question that can help you to live life to the full, before you die.
A gentle and effective Buddhist meditation that can help to prepare you for a loss.
Ways to think about and prepare for death resourcefully.
The psychological importance of grieving and mourning rituals.
…and the important role played by coffee and walnut cake.
My aim is that you leave the session uplifted and with a life-affirming clarity. I look forward to seeing you at the conference.
By Madeleine Allen