Death Café: Where strangers eat cake, drink tea, and talk about death.
Hi Calgary, I hope you’ve had some time to enjoy the warm turn of weather! Today we’re talking about Death Cafés – a fascinating new phenomenon popping up in cities all over the globe.
What is Death Café?
“Creepy” is probably the first word that crossed your mind – am I right? Despite your gut reaction, Death Cafés are quite the contrary. These are free events hosted frequently and all over the world. They offer a safe space for people to meet, enjoy refreshments, and discuss all aspects of death – their own, their loved ones’, and in general. Some people talk about how they would like their dying experience to unfold, some discuss their ideal funeral, some bring stories about the death of loved ones, some just listen – as long as the discussion is inquisitive, thoughtful and sincere, nothing is off limits. The environment is friendly and supportive – a truly safe place for people to explore ideas that are often misjudged as macabre.
The intention is to help people feel more comfortable talking about the inevitable end, thereby making them more prepared and less fearful when the time does come. Basically, death happens – so why not talk about it. The argument is that if a person can understand, prepare for, and feel comfortable discussing their own death and the death of loved ones, then they will be able to live a fuller life. The Western culture is famously death-shy, so many people crave such an outlet to discuss taboo topics.
It’s important to know that a Death Café is not the first place to turn if you need more intense bereavement support or counseling. If you think you may need grief support, call Health Link Alberta for more information (1-866-408-LINK).
Calgary’s Death Café history.
The first Death Café was held in 2011 in London, England. The practice has grown rapidly throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. The Death Café explosion speaks to the growing cultural shift surrounding end-of-life topics. Wendy Kurchack hosted Calgary’s first Death Café in March 2013. She is a certified thanatologist, meaning, she is educated in the scientific aspects of death. These local events have been quick to fill up, which is a testament to their popularity.
Calgary’s next Death Café has not been scheduled yet, but keep your eyes peeled to these websites for upcoming local events:
There aren’t any Death Cafés in my city! Can I host my own event?
Yes! Death Café is a “social franchise,” and anyone with the skills, interest, and experience can host one if they are aligned with the Death Café philosophies and principles. All Death Café events are not for profit, accessible, respectful, confidential, without a target outcome or prescribed discussion topics, and
Visit http://deathcafe.com/how/ to learn about the structure of a Death Café, and how to host your own event.
If you’re curious about Death Cafés and want to learn more, visit http://deathcafe.com/ or check one out for yourself. We’d love to hear what you think!
Wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead,