There is something a little chilling in the phrase “Death Cafe”. Much of our society has difficulty in dealing with and speaking about dying and death. I went to a seminar once where a palliative care worker asked the audience “Who among you has lost a loved one”. Most hands went up. He went on to ask “Where did you lose him/her? Did you find them again?”. In other words we use phrases that mean death (passed on, passed away or just plain passed) but keep us from having to say the word itself.
A movement known as Death Cafes are popping up in cities across the world. I had never heard of the events until I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen today. From the article “Their (the Cafes) stated purpose is to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” Underwood (who started the movement) held his first one in the basement of his home in September 2011, and since then more than 100 have taken place in homes, cafés and other spaces in Britain, Europe, Canada, the U.S., Australia and elsewhere, with more than 40 hosts and 1,000 guests participating.
I am interested in what these events have to offer. They are very small gatherings. The one in Ottawa has a capacity of 30 people. You can see though that 1,000 people gathering across many nations is really not that many, is it?
I like the idea of celebrating someone’s life regularly after someone has died (as noted in the article above). It helps keep memories alive, pass them on to younger generations and to deal with the permanent loss.
And so I signed up to attend. My husband said (after he asked if our life insurance was paid up) he’d join me.
What do you think of the concept of a Death Cafe? Would you attend if one came to your neighbourhood?