I attended my first “Death Cafe” last week. These are conversational meetings which are growing in popularity internationally. The “Death Cafe” started in England in 2011 with the idea that by talking about death one can make better choices for living to a full potential. At the cafe I attended a group of about twenty people met at a local restaurant’s community space. There were four tables and each table had a card with an intriguing question such as: “What are your thoughts about the afterlife?”, “What are your ideas about how to live life more fully?” and “What fears and concerns do you have about your own death?”. In groups of four or five the conversations started and went on for about forty-five minutes then we would move on to another table and another topic. Though the meetings are not designed as grief support or therapy, it seemed to me that the process of facing the topic full on could have a healing effect. I found the conversations to be lively, respectful, humorous, sad, supportive, creative and especially thought provoking.
Another organization inviting people to join in the conversation is “Death Over Dinner”. Their site features interactive pages to help you organize a dinner in your home by providing text for the invitations, making related reading and film viewing suggestions and giving conversation prompts.
Although the word Death carries a morose weight to it I found my evening did not feel heavy. There was a lightness in the conversations even when some of the stories that people shared were sad. Talking about this mystery that we will all face brought a sense of camaraderie, understanding and compassion to the table. Death is the common experience we will all have as living creatures. No matter our differences, it is one thing that connects us all.
-Singing Luna 11/21/2013