Death Cafe 500



On Thursday last week we to hit a major milestone – our 500th Death Café!

 

It’s a good time to do some celebrating. The growth of Death Café is phenomenal – this time last year we were just about to hold our 50th!

 

I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that everything is going very well with this project. I feel we’re providing a very meaningful thing by offering some time to talk about death. Our model of Death Cafes being agenda-free discussion groups feels very natural and positive.

 

More and more people are deciding to offer Death Cafes. We have 129 Death Cafes currently scheduled to take place and they seem to be being added at an ever increasing rate.

 

This is powerful stuff to be doing and I am very grateful to be working with all of you. The growth of Death Café has been driven by you who have organized Death Cafés, attended them or supported us. Thank you all so much. You're an amazing bunch!

 

I am very excited about our plans for the future of Death Cafe. As well as more and more Death Cafes, this year we’ll have new logo and artwork created by the fabulous Phil Cooper. I have also written an initial vision document for the ‘real’ Death Café that we’re working to establish.

 

This is at the stage where I’d like some input. If you’d like to feed in I would very much welcome your views. Please post your email below or contact me on underwoodjon@gmail.com.


Onwards and upwards!

 

Jon



Comments


Well done Jon

Well done Jon. The whole movement owes you a big debt of gratitude. What you have started is quite extraordinary


Posted by Nigel George


Yay! This is so awesome!!!!


Posted by Death Cafe St. Joe/ Megan Mooney

Fool o' Fools

A psycho-philosophical perspective that promotes greater awareness of death and how it influences the human animal's every motive...question is: does agenda free mean or suggest that one should not promote actions that might better correlate with such an perspective?


Posted by Giacomo


I'm so happy to be a part of this growing movement Jon!

The global impact of this will last for lifetimes I believe!

Ava


Posted by Ava Reyerson


Thanks for all the kind words!

@Giacomo - thanks for your comment which I have spent some time pondering.

Do you mean that by being agenda free we should not promote any specific actions or behaviour? If so then yes, I think every person has to find their own individual sense of meaning in the context of life and death.

Or do you mean that the very act of having Death Cafes implies having an agenda? If so then I would agree that yes it does.

Our shared agenda is something like a belief that for some people at some time it might be helpful to talk about death, and that it might be useful to provide a Death Cafe where they can do so. This is our raison d'etre and I am not embarrassed about it one bit. I feel that many people have really enjoyed attending and organising Death Cafes. It has been excellent fun.

Or did you mean something else entirely? If so please do clarify. Either way I enjoyed your comment!


Posted by Jon Underwood

Jon, I've facilitated six death cafes since May of 2013. The feedback from the evaluations has been extremely positive, with one attendee telling me, "I think the work you are doing in this area is some of the most important work that can be done at this time." That felt good.

My co-presenter, Laurie, says she feels fulfilled by facilitating in this work and expresses her gratitude to me each time we do one for including her in this major work.

I feel that facilitating death cafes and helping people overcome their many fears around death and dying and end-of-life issues is the culmination of my life's work and mission.

I have a comment that I hope is taken well. I believe that it is very important that facilitators have some experience in the area of death and dying. Someone approached me about facilitating one and she admitted she had no experience in the field. I was non-committal, but actually wondered how rich an experience the attendees would have. I feel that my 10 years of experience in hospice work gives me a depth of wisdom and understanding that's important. I sense that many attendees look to the moderators for some direction. When I respond to questions, I always add something like, "Well, it was my experience that..." I really believe they appreciate the fact I've served so many years in caring for people and studying about end-of-life issues .

Thank you, Jon, for all you do in this area.



Posted by deathcafenv


Facilitators

Giacomo, It is an interesting question you raised about facilitators. What makes for a good Death Cafe facilitator?

I think that the experience we bring to this subject is a vital ingredient to the quality of the event. It gives it the depth and breadth. I think a huge amount is asked of the facilitator to 'hold' the Death Cafe, the stories people bring, their worries, questions, their hunger for information. Whilst I agree that we need not expect to have all the information at our fingertips, it is emotionally important that we bring understanding to what is being shared. I have a wealth of experience, personally and professionally and I draw on these to support the conversation. Like you I speak from my experience .... not from some text book and obviously never telling anyone what to do or think. Being authentic as a facilitator sets the tone for everyone else. People feel that and it creates a sense of safety. I think good facilitation in all the various aspects of it, from choosing the setting, preparing, admin, being on time to receive guests, providing a calm and friendly environment and atmosphere, facilitating, being supportive, on this rests the success of Death Cafe. A number of people who attended my Death Cafes have wanted to learn to run their own Death Cafes. It is a pleasure for me to encourage and support them. The have personal and professional experience and group facilitating experience which they are developing. I have run one Death Cafe for a group who wanted to start up Death Cafe in their area outside of London. And this week I will attend a new Death Cafe set up by one of my regulars. I am really proud of that! It is a wonderful community that is springing up and I especially like the generosity of mutual support.
Jon, Death Cafe is a brilliant set-up! I completely see it as a relative of the Natural Death Centre, I don't think you object, do you? The NDC was all about encouraging people up and down the country to initiate change and be an active participant in this movement. And this is what is so special about Death Cafe and what makes it so special. Thanks to the web to make this possible at this fast rate!


Posted by Josefine Speyer

Death Cafe in York

I notice that there is a Lancaster Death Cafe and it would be brilliant if there is any way to set up something similar either at York University or College or in one of the numerous cafes in York itself. I used to live in Lancaster and caused a bit of a stir when I organised my father's funeral service without a funeral director!


Posted by Dot Callis


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