Can Talking About Death Really Be Fun? Or Why Death Cafes Are So Wildly Popular
Every Tuesday morning for more than two years, I have been facilitating virtual Death Cafes via Zoom.
I love doing it. It’s my anchor. It feeds my heart and spirit. It is family.
One thing I know for sure: People want to talk about death. They want to be listened to and feel understood, and they want to listen with hearts wide open to others. They want to feel that the space is safe to share deeply.
What is a Death Cafe? Simply stated, it is a group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session.
Started in 2011 in England (see DeathCafe.com) by Jon Underwood, a prescient gentleman who died unexpectedly in 2017, in order to normalize conversations around death, Death Cafes are open to anyone, free, and wildly popular.
Over 14,000 Death Cafes have taken place in more than 81 countries to date. Here is a map of Cafes just in the U.S.:
I led Death Cafes in person before the pandemic. I find that the virtual environment helps people open up more intimately. My friend is a therapist who now, thanks to Covid, is 100% online. She finds this to be true too; people will open up online in a way they would not in person. She can read their body language better online.
Because people like the virtual intimacy of this safe space where they can share deeply, they keep coming back. Before you know it, there are regulars and a sense of community that is welcoming to newcomers.
Its a bit like a Twelve-Step meeting: it is safe, confidential, respectful space, with no interrupting, no crosstalk, no advice giving unless requested, and deep listening and acceptance. It is a loving space. There is no pressure to share.
But can the topic of death be fun to talk about? The family feel makes these conversations fun. Not partying fun. Not dancing all night fun. Not ‘haha’ funny. But fun in the sweet, sacred way where you feel comfortable and at home, and know for those 90 minutes at least, all is well.
So if you feel that little pull towards trying out an open conversation about death and dying, know these things are true in a Death Cafe:
You will be unconditionally supported.
You will be free to cry or laugh, share or not.
You will not be advised or judged or pressured.
You can share deeply.
You can feel deeply.
And you can laugh with others about death and dying without guilt.
Death Cafes are offered on a not for profit basis and with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action.
For more information check out deathcafe.com.
For the death cafes I facilitate, simply search ‘death cafe mission hospice’ and ‘death cafe ekr foundation’ on Eventbrite, or find me, Rhyena Halpern, on Facebook or LinkedIn where I post the registration link weekly.
Here is the link for some upcoming ones:
*VIRTUAL* Death Café -- In partnership with Bay Area Cancer Connections Eventbrite - Mission Hospice & Home Care presents *VIRTUAL* Death Café -- In partnership with Bay Area Cancer…www.eventbrite.com