Last night I attended a ‘Death Café’ at a local downtown coffee shop. I had heard of them before and was intrigued. They are meant “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives. A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes.” www.deathcafe.com
About 25-30 adults were gathered, all ages, in a back room of the coffee shop, seated at small tables in groups of six or less, which allowed for intimate, close talk. A local officiant, Christine Lafazanos, and her company “Woven Threads,” handcrafted ceremonies, hosted the event which she holds every two months for the public for free.
After a short introduction, with some basic guidelines, she handed the evening over to us. For the next two hours, we introduced ourselves, told the others why we were there, and discussed a large variety of issues about death, dying, and grief through casual conversation. On the table, was a small jar with short statements about death meant to initiate discussion. We shared stories and expressed our fears, grief, and questions. We all acknowledged that our society just doesn’t like talking about death.
It was refreshing to be able to meet with strangers and speak about such a dreaded topic which affects us all. After all, we all die. Why do we ignore it, and treat it with such fear? Why are we and our families so unprepared for it? How does it affect us in both the short and the long term? What can we do to help loved ones die? What can we do for ourselves and our own grief and suffering when we lose a loved one? How can we live better lives by acknowledging the inevitability of death?
Death. It’s a big issue. We had many questions. And I’m not so sure there were clear answers but it was refreshing and helpful to talk about it and apply it to our own lives. We can help each other.