People across the nation are meeting for coffee to discuss death and dying.
Death Cafe, a growing movement that started in Europe, brings adults together to discuss death, dying and advance care planning over coffee.
The Death Cafe Web site states the goal of these cafes: “To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
Sociologist Bernard Crettaz, who started hosting the first “cafe mortals” in Switzerland in 2004, said that fellowship brings out truth. “I am never so in tune with the truth as during one of these soirées. And I have the impression that the assembled company, for a moment, and thanks to death, is born into authenticity,” he wrote in “Cafés Mortels: Sortir la Mort du Silence.”
Six years later, Jon Underwood started the U.K. Death Cafe, after he read about the emergence of the cafes in Paris and decided to offer them himself, mostly in London.
Last year, the guide to hosting cafes encouraged Lizzy Miles, a 43-year-old hospice volunteer, to organize a cafe in Columbus, Ohio. She tries to keep the coffee and cake free, through fundraising and donations. Frank discussion then ensues with her guests.
“The goal is to raise death awareness with the view of helping people make the most of their lives. I’m really passionate about death,” she told The Huffington Post.
Nothing about death is too taboo for discussion. Wondering if cremation is better than burial? Ask. Struggling with an illness? Share your experiences. Even theological discussions are okay.
More recent cafes have emerged in Albuquerque, N.M.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Belfast, Maine; Sonoma, Calif., and Chicago.
Elements, a cremation company based in Chicago, was inspired to start hosting cafes in the spring. “We realized the importance of opening up the conversation, and how simple conversations about our own demise are needed in our community,” legal counselor Ronette Leal McCarthy told LMM.
“We hope to offer a unique perspective to others that will help Death Cafe Chicago mature and offer insight on a topic many shy away from– death and all that surrounds it,” McCarthy said.