Wednesday was the first Death Cafe held in my area. A simple gathering over light fare to discuss death; not a support or grief group, just people who came together to share feelings, insights and issues about the inevitable with no agenda, sales pitch, or anything to buy, just a conversation about a subject society tries to avoid.
Where did this idea come from?
The Death Cafe was developed in 2010 by Jon Underwood, a web programmer in
England, who was inspired by similar concepts in
Switzerland and . France
Nonprofit and nondenominational, they came to the
in 2012. There have
been 750 Death Cafes held in 17 countries, including more than 500 in the United States . United States
"Death has a lot of real estate in terms of cemeteries, hospitals, funerals, and hospices, but there's really nowhere for people who are alive to get together to talk about what unites us all.... so it's become the province of professionals rather than something that's held in a community," said Underwood.
NPR recently broadcast a segment about
, "the town where
everyone talks about death." La Crosse,
Nearly 96 percent of people who have died there had advance directives; nationally, only 30 percent of people who die have advance directives.
"Our hope is that people will become more comfortable discussing death with neighbors and family members, and make appropriate plans, including wills, estate planning, and advance directives to guide loved ones in the coming days," said Lindquist.
Lindquist said a Death Cafe is neither bereavement nor a grief support resource.
"We look forward to meeting people in the community who would like to discuss the needs and desires of all of us who will reach this point sooner or later," said Lindquist.
Lindquist is a
artist, active in the community and interested in supporting aging issues and
open discussions in a "nonexpert” and open setting. Camden