Death is an inescapable part of life. Everyone will die, and everyone will lose people they are close to. Despite the inevitability of death, many North Americans are reluctant to talk about the process of dying, death itself, or the many physical, legal, financial, and moral decisions that need to be made in the face of death. Death Cafe aims to change that. Plus, they always serve cake.
Death Cafe is an organization that aims to "increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives". At a Death Cafe event, people gather in a safe place to drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death with no agenda, objectives or themes. Since its founding by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky in 2011, more than 9100 Death Cafes have been held in 65 countries.
Death Cafe is a social franchise, and anyone who agrees to follow the Death Cafe guidelines can host one. A core value of Death Cafe is that discussions should be free and open, with "no intention of leading participants to any conclusion, product or course of action". It is not a grief support or counseling session, nor is it an information session. In addition to facilitated conversations, all Death Cafes feature tea, nourishing food, and delicious cake in a private and safe space.
People attend a Death Cafe for a variety of reasons. Many people find that coming to terms with the inevitability of death helps them appreciate life. Many people wish to discuss advanced planning for death, funeral arrangements, and what happens after death. Participants often work in healthcare, the funeral industry, or in faith communities, but everyone is welcome. There is no set agenda or discussion topics for a Death Cafe, and the conversation often begins with, "What brought you here?"
Death Cafes take place all over the US and other countries. More information and a list of upcoming events can be found at the Death Cafe website (https://deathcafe.com/)
Join us next time as we examine the differences between "normal" grief and complicated grief.