What is a Death Cafe?
A Death Cafe is an opportunity to explore your relationship to mortality with like-minded folks. No one can be certain about the precise origin of the Death Cafe, but the term started appearing online around 2004. These are informal gatherings often held in cafes, restaurants, community centres, or private homes, for the purpose of discussing general and/or specific themes around mortality. This relaxed social setting is often facilitated by a lead person, who introduces the concept of the Death Cafe. Depending on the number of individuals present, the facilitator might encourage participants to converse in small groups for ease of idea exchange and to support the sharing of personal stories, experiences, and feelings. There may be a point in the gathering when participants are asked to change groups or tables for the opportunity to connect with more people, as well as a portion where the conversation is opened up to include the whole group. Some Death Cafes are recurring events (for example, every month) that feature rotating keynote speakers who are experts in their death-related field, such as a mortician, green burial consultant, death doula, home funeral facilitator, grief counselor, etc. This provides a special opportunity to ask topic-specific questions.
Why participate in a Death Cafe?
Death Cafes allow us to openly discuss topics that are otherwise considered taboo, or avoided for reasons of social politeness ("I don't want to upset anyone"). Because death is a natural and needed part of the life cycle, and because there are so few forums to explore our relationship to it, Death Cafes have become extremely popular in recent years, as this experience of mortality will inevitably touch all of us.
Host a Death Cafe in your community
So, you want to participate in a Death Cafe - that's great! It doesn't take an expert to do it. If you take the leap and put out an invitation, you will likely be surprised by the enthusiastic response. Locally owned businesses such as cafes and small restaurants are great places to gather, and will usually be happy to extend their regular hours into the evening, especially if you remind them that your attendees will be purchasing their products (the usual tea, coffee, snacks, etc.).
Want a little extra help? Contact us for consultation, or invite a Death Doula to be a keynote speaker at your next Death Cafe.