What is a Death Cafe?


At Death Cafes, people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to discuss death, drink tea / coffee and eat delicious cake. The objective of Death Cafes is “to increase awareness of death [while] helping people make the most of their lives.” Jon Underwood founded Death Cafe in 2011 based on the work of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz who offered ‘Cafe Mortels’ in Switzerland and France. Jon read of this in a newspaper article in November 2010. Jon immediately knew that Bernard’s vision clicked with his.

Death Cafe is part of a set of projects about death and dying called Impermanence.The first Death Cafe took place in London September 2011 in Jon’s basement and was facilitated by Sue Barsky Reid, who developed a model for running Death Cafes. This involves creating a safe, convivial setting where discussions are led by the group.

Death Cafe are also a ‘social franchise’. This means anyone can hold a Death Cafe, as long as they follow the guidelines set out at Deathcafe.org.  At each meeting, members gather to discuss death and the many topics that accompany the subject. Typically there won’t be any movies or guest speakers. The participants pick the topics and decide what to talk about.

–       No intention of leading participants towards any particular conclusion, product or course of action

–       To be an accessible, respectful and confidential space, free of discrimination

–        This is not a bereavement resource. Death Cafes are aimed at the wider community rather than those experiencing the white heat of bereavement and terminal illness. People in those situations might well benefit more from something more structured.

– See more at: deathcafe.com