What is a Death Café?

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The last time I checked, we are all going to die. Hopefully, later rather than sooner, but now seems a good time to talk about Death Cafes. Wait. Before you click away in horror, understand that Death Cafes are more about living life than about mourning death.

What is a Death Café?

I had the opportunity to interview Karen Van Dyke on The Aging Boomers radio show and podcast. Karen is a leader at a Death Café in San Diego, California and says, “a Death Café is where people meet monthly, come to drink tea, eat cake and discuss death.” She continues, “our aim is to increase awareness of death and help people make the most of their finite lives.”

Karen began holding Death Cafés in San Diego two years ago and is part of a global trend that’s seen more than 1,227 Death Café events since 2011.

First things first. A Death Café has no agenda. It is not a grief group. It is not a therapy session. It is a discussion group where the topic is death. Death Cafes are pop-up events held in living rooms, coffee shops, churches and rented halls. People gather, drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death. Discussions vary. Nothing is taboo. The only constants are tea and cake.

“Our society is death phobic,” Karen says, “and this takes death out of the closet.” The real value of a Death Café, she says, is in how “it breaks the ice on the topic of death.” By putting it out on the table, discussing it and coming to grips with it, people learn to live more. They also find it easier to discuss their end-of-life wishes with loved ones.

Who should attend a Death Café? “Anyone who’s going to die,” Karen says, “preferably 18 and older.” That pretty much means all of us.

“Attending a Death Café is a magical experience,” Karen says. When we start talking about death and the fact that it’s coming for all of us, we start thinking about life and how we want to live it.

To learn more about Death Cafes, where to find one near you and how to start your own, go to DeathCafe.com. You can also find loads of information on Karen’s Death Café San Diego Facebook Page. To hear Karen’s and my full conversation about Death Cafes, go to The Aging Boomers.com.