I remember the day someone told me about a “death cafe”. I was very curious and had many questions, then I said, “I like the concept but I’m not so sure I like the name!”
Are you also put off by combining the words “death” and “cafe”? Perhaps you feel that a prettier word than “death” should be used. Or maybe a less harsh, less offensive word could be used.
In 2012, when Jon Underwood started Death Cafe, he chose the name because he felt there would be no confusion and a person would be sure to know what they were getting into. He felt that although many people avoid the subject of death, there are those who would appreciate an environment where they could feel safe to talk about this (often seen as) taboo subject.
Jon Underwood designed Death Cafe to be simple, having only a few simple rules. First, it must be non profit. Next, there can be no pre-planned agenda, as it must welcome the thoughts, concerns, and opinions of all in attendance. Also, there can be no products sold, no suggested conclusions or solutions, or even suggested courses of action. Death Cafe must also be respectful and inclusive. And lastly, there must be refreshments served!
You may be wondering about what types of subjects come up in a Death Cafe As you may guess, death and dying is often discussed. But you may be quite surprised to learn that more often, it is life that gets talked about. Many people believe–me included–that how we live will influence how we die. Another surprising thought is that we all are simultaneously living and dying as we speak. So invariably, many conversations are about actions and choices in life that can influence our last days leading up to death.
I have attended many Death Cafes since my discovery of them five years ago, and I must say that rarely do I ever experience one that does not include lots of laughter. Contrary to most people’s first impression, Death Cafes are great fun! And when the conversation turns serious, I find that I learn some very fascinating things about the people in attendance, and interesting concepts and opinions about any array of life subjects.
In fact, I love Death Cafes so much that over a year ago I started hosting them in my own home. Once a month, on a Saturday afternoon, a group of us can be found sitting around my dining table sharing thoughts, making each other laugh and eating cake. So if you live in my area (Sacramento, California), look up my Death Cafe in Meetup and join us! You will be welcome and we will surely be happy to exchange thoughts with you about anything that crosses your mind and ours.