Have you heard of the Death Cafe? Death Cafe is a worldwide movement that’s helping to bring out the taboo topic of death into the public arena. This movement began in the U.K. – and before that in Switzerland – three and a half years ago. There have been many more than 1,000 death cafes by now around the world.
At a Death Cafe (www.deathcafe.com) people, often strangers, in a given city or neighborhood gather at a given location that’s private and comfortable – cafe, bookstore, home, etc. – to eat something sweet, drink tea, and talk about death. The idea is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
A Death Cafe is a gathering of people dedicated to the discussion of death with no agenda, objectives, or themes. It’s a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session.
Death Cafes are always offered:
– On a non-profit basis
– In an accessible, confidential, and respectful place
– With no intention of leading people to any particular conclusion, product, or course of action
– Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing foods – and cake, or sweets of some kind, of course!
I have attended my share of Death Cafes; in Sedona, AZ, I even helped to start one. My experience of them are quite varied and have always left me feeling very good. In general, they seem to attract a variety of ages and people.
Almost always, the people who attend have been touched by death or grief – sometimes recently and sometimes many years ago. They are people who are eager to share their experiences, perhaps because in many places still today, death is a taboo topic.
Two people – a friend and myself – led the Death Cafe I helped start in Sedona. We got the inspiration to start one because, surprisingly, no one had started one in Sedona. We led the Cafe in a private home once a month for about five months, through one summer. Most sessions we had a good eight to ten people attending. There were older individuals facing death themselves; there were individuals who had experienced powerful NDEs (near death experiences). We also had people and friends who were just curious attending and checking out the group. It was a most worthwhile experience. Eventually, the energy for the group dwindled, and my friend had to focus on other things, so we had to close the Death Cafe.
About the same time, another group ran a Death Cafe for just one time in a neighboring town. They used an assisted care facility and publicized it in a big way. They had a large group attending, – 30 plus – but they decided to have it be a one-time experience. People sat at small tables in a large room to speak in small groups during the Cafe.
I invite you to look into the Death Cafe movement and see if there happens to be one in your community. If not, you could always start one, perhaps with a friend who’s interested in the topic as well. Here’s a link that will guide you in the process: http://deathcafe.com/how/.
By the way, I know for a fact that there is a Death Cafe happening in Olympia. It usually meets on the last Wednesday of the month, at the Obsidian Cafe, 414 Fourth Ave. E. – in Olympia. They have a Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/olympiadeathcafe/.
I will be teaching a class later this month on “joyful transitions” and one on the essential oils and transitions in early February at the Brilliant Moon in Shelton. Please contact them for details. (360) 868-2190.
This conversation is to be continued, and we welcome your stories, questions and comments around these topics.