Talking about death doesn’t need to be morbid, gloomy or depressing. If you’re looking for a way to have a conversation about the inevitable over a slice of cake, you may want to attend a Death Cafe, or even host your own. Anna and Louise from Life. Death. Whatever. have hosted Death Cafes in Brooklyn, at the Royal Festival Hall, Bestival and Westminster, amongst other places.
What is Death Cafe?
Quite simply, a Death Cafe is a gathering where strangers come together to talk about death whilst drinking tea and eating cake. Over 6000 Death Cafes have been held around the world since the movement began in Jon Underwood’s front room in Hackney in 2011.
The objective is '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. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.
How does it work?
Death Cafe is a 'social franchise'. This means that people who sign up to the guide and principles can use the name Death Cafe, post events to the website and talk to the press as an affiliate of Death Cafe.
Death Cafes have spread quickly across Europe, North America and Australasia. As of April 2018, there have been 6181 Death Cafes in 56 countries since September 2011. If 10 people came to each one that would be 61810 participants.
The Death Cafe model was developed by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid, based on the ideas of Bernard Crettaz.
Death Cafe has no staff and was run on a voluntary basis by Jon Underwood in Hackney, East London, until his death in 2017.