What’s a Death Cafe?

Another format for having those heart to heart conversations that are difficult to start can occur in the most unlikely places. There is another organization that we are affiliated with that has a funny name but does a great community service. Death Cafe seems like an unlikely name for almost anything, but how about a place serving up real information about death and everything that goes along with it?

In another attempt to reach out to people, we came across this organization that was in the Raleigh, North Carolina area. In fact, it was started in England as a place to share information about options and resources available to the public. Things that you might know about or think about until the death of a loved one is right on top of you. That is not the best time to make decisions and so born out of the intention to provide valuable information, Death Cafe was started.

Seems like a practical yet unconventional idea. Share what you have learned about the facts of dying? We are all going to do it one day.  So, let’s get the mystery out of it and talk with experts who have become familiar with the process.

This included many experts from a variety of fields who attend including: funeral directors, estate planners, medicare advisors, nurses, advocates for alternative burial methods, hospice workers, death doula’s and grief support folks like us. The attendees are from all walks of life and all ages. Some looking into alternative means, some offering niche ideas and some who have recently experienced a death in the family and are looking for comfort and a place to talk about their loved one. 

At the Raleigh, Death Cafe held at the Renaissance Funeral Home on Six Folks Road. This family business hosts the monthly meeting opening their doors for the conversations. 40-50 people will regularly attend depending on the monthly topic or featured speaker. Over the years it has become a community for people in the industry to gather and offer support to one another. Some months their will be a featured film or documentary to watch then a discussion will follow.

One of the best features of this particular group is that they don’t take the subject of death with formality and stuffiness. These are real people that are not trying to sell you anything, are there because they want you to make informed decisions and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Keeping the flow light and lively can be a challenge when you are in the middle of a grief situation. Being mindful and respectful always goes along way to making everyone feel comfortable.

There are Death Cafes across the united states and while each is probably unique in the way they present their material the idea goes a very long way to make certain that people have the information they need to make informed decisions and have the resource they need before they are confronted with decisions they are not prepared for. If you hesitate to explore this topic, you may be missing out on an interesting discussion and a chance to meet people that have dedicated their own time to making the process of death more understandable, relatable and less mysterious.