Get talking about end of life at a Death Cafe

NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) held a Day of the Dead themed Death Café for their staff this week, in a bid to get more people to talk about death and dying, and to make practical plans that will help loved ones left behind.


The CCG commissions end of life and palliative care in Leeds. As part of this work, the CCG is a member of the Dying Matters Partnership in Leeds which brings together partners from the NHS, Leeds City Council, community groups, charities and funeral services, to work together and encourage more people to talk about this often taboo subject. The CCG chose to theme the event the Day of the Dead which is a Mexican Festival which celebrates the lives of people who have died.

Jane Robinson, manager of Leeds Bereavement Forum, facilitated an informal chat over tea and cakes and staff shared their experiences and questions. Many admitted they still didn’t have a will and vowed to make this a priority. Staff also shared their views around how sudden death of loved ones is dealt with, positive experiences of hospices and how vital it is that health professionals communicate sensitively and clearly with friends and relatives when someone dies.

Linda McGowan, Commissioning Manager said:

“Death Cafés may sound a bit scary but they are really just a relaxed way to get together to talk about something that people can feel uncomfortable about – but which is actually very important! We want to encourage people in Leeds to make sure they have a will, and to talk to their loved ones about what they want from their own end of life – whether that’s making funeral plans, organ donation or just letting people know what’s important to them. It was great to see so many NHS colleagues talking about this at our event and many of them told us they found it really helpful.”

Leeds Bereavement Forum is holding two death cafés which are open to the public:

  • Thursday 17 November | 10am-12pm | Oxford Place Centre, Oxford Place, Leeds LS1 3AX
  • Wednesday 18 January | 10am-12pm | Oxford Place Centre, Oxford Place, Leeds LS1 3AX

You can also help agencies such as the NHS and the council in Leeds to get a better picture of what plans people have made for end of life and how professionals can offer better support, by taking part in this anonymous survey:

Leeds Bereavement Forum:

  • Signposts individuals to the most appropriate bereavement service either locally or nationally. The service is free and open to all.
  • Provides training, information, events and conferences to people who work in the area of bereavement to support their professional development and work in partnership with organisations across the city to improve the provision of bereavement services.
  • Campaigns to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement and to make plans for the end of life.

You can contact them by phone: (0113) 225 3975; Email:, or go to their website: