The first cafe was attended by a diverse group including a grief specialist Kristie West, a Buddhist nun, a management consultant, council strategist and a psychotherapist.
West, who specialises in working with people who have lost a parent, said of the event: “It was such a valuable and important occasion, I was honored to be part of it.”
The Death Café movement to remove taboos around death began in Switzerland with sociologist Bernard Crettaz. Crettaz described the wider public’s inability to talk about death as “tyrannical secrecy”and worked to eradicate this with regular discussions on this topic. His death cafe proved extremely popular and a similar event began in France. This weekend Death Café was introduced to the UK for the first time by Jon Underwood.
The British“Death Café”is a structured forum where participants come together to share good food, drink and discuss their feelings, understandings and culture surrounding death. The objective of this is to change and improve the way that we live through greater awareness of death. Jon Underwood describes reflection on death as “the ultimate antidote to consumer culture”.
”The event was perfect from beginning to end, much better than I had envisaged... poignant, intense and emotional.”was Underwood’s reaction to Sunday’s Death Café event.
The first Death Café began with discussing feelings about death, followed by an exercise where participants wrote down fears about death which they believed would prevent them from enjoyment of life. This was followed by a discussion of participant’
Beginning in Hackney, Underwood is planning a series of Death Cafés, with attendees from all walks of life, religions and cultures. He is developing a set of materials that will enable others to undertake events of their own. “The world is now facing massive social economic, environmental challenges. I believe that our society having a better relationship with death has a significant part in addressing these.”
For a taste of Death Cafés, visit www.deathcafe.com. If you are interested in attending a future Death Café please email firstname.lastname@example.org