Death Cafes and How to Start One

Death — we fear it, tell jokes about it, work to stay healthy in order to postpone it, and see it on TV nearly every day. However, we usually don’t discuss it and certainly not with a group of strangers.

That’s why Death Cafes break most of the rules of polite society when they urge people to talk about death, dying and what might lie beyond.

The cafes are an idea that started in England several years ago as a way “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives,” according to the website.

“Death is a topic we should not be afraid to talk about because it truly is a part of life,” said Alexis Pearce, a board certified chaplain and grief counselor with Silverado Hospice. “Our hope is that people will leave the discussion with a positive outlook on life by sharing their personal feelings and experiences.”

Van Dyke said there are now more than 1,000 Death Cafes in 23 different countries.

Intro from a Death Cafe Invitation

Join us for Tea and Treats as we meet to discuss all aspects of death and dying.  This is a safe, respectful space where you can share beliefs, curiosity, fear and stories.  Consequently, there is no set agenda, the discussions are to share and gain insight to our immortality. Consequently, interesting conversations are guarenteed!

The following is taken from the website article “Holding Your Own Death Cafe

Hosting a Death Cafe

A Death Cafe host is the person or people who make the Death Cafe happen. Being a Death Cafe host tends to be an enlightening and pleasant way of working with death in the community, and investing in your personal growth.

Death Cafe operates a free affiliate scheme. This means people who sign up to our principles are authorized to do certain things, i.e.:

  • Use the name Death Cafe for their events.
  • Post events to our website.
  • Talk to the press and others as an affiliate of Death Cafe.

Principles of Death Cafes that are always offered

  • With no intention of leading participants to any conclusion, product or course of action.
  • As an open, respectful and confidential space where people can express their views safely.
  • On a not for profit basis.
  • Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!

It’s also worth stating here what Death Cafes are not

  • Death Cafe is not a bereavement support or grief counselling setting. Death Cafe doesn’t work for people who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to discuss death comfortably and openly. There are many projects better set up for this.
  • Death Cafes aren’t an opportunity to give people information about death and dying – regardless of 6 good or important it is. Rather, we create time to discuss death without expectations. For this reason having guest speakers and information materials available is actively discouraged
  • Death Cafe doesn’t work as a method of community engagement, research or consultation. Therefore, it shouldn’t be used for these purposes.

Steps involved in hosting a Death Cafe:

  • Agreeing who will do what.
  • Finding the venue and setting the date.
  • Letting people know.
  • Holding and enjoying your Death Cafe.
  • Write-up / debrief and evaluate.
  • Begin with a thorough read of this guide. 

As a host you’re responsible for the safety of your Death Cafes. Death Cafes tend to be very safe and positive events and we have had very little incident in our 200 Death Cafes to date. However, to ensure the safety of your Death Cafe please:

  • Check all facilitators meet the criteria in the section below.
  • Have a minimum of 2 Death Cafe people at the event, especially if the Death Cafe is in a domestic setting.
  • Ensure you know where and how to refer people who need more support.
  • Refuse to admit anyone who comes to a Death Cafe intoxicated.
  • Ensure people know that Death Cafe is not a bereavement or a grief support resource. Instead, there are other venues for that support.

As of June 1st, 2019 I do not see that anyone in the San Diego area who is hosting Death Cafes. Therefore, if you’ve questions please post them to the Death Cafe practitioners page. Some hosts are open to mentoring others in their Death Cafe work. Please feel free to get in touch with them via their profile pages.

Are you interested in hosting a Death Cafe in San Diego? If so, here is the link to get registered and begin the conversation! https://deathcafe.com/accounts/login/?next=/new/

So, let’s not be afraid, let’s talk about death. It’s going to happen to all of us.

Related Links

Funerals are for the Living

6 Ideas for a Celebration of Life

KPBS Article on Death Cafes

By |2019-06-03T22:03:03+00:00June 3rd, 2019|Creative Services|Comments Off on Death Cafes and How to Start One