Sixteen people came to the Death Cafe hosted by Sherry Gilles with the
assistance of Raymond T. Anderson on June 18, 2013 at Pagan Spirit
Gathering in Earlville, IL.
We sat in the shade of a giant old tree at and around a weathered
picnic table and shared cinnamon apple sun tea, lemonade, moon pies, nuts,
dutch apple crumb cakes, candy and other snacks.
We started off discussing a few questions from the Death Anxiety
Questionairre by Conte, Weiner and Plutchik. (1982 "Measuring Death
We discussed the loss of parents and other loved ones. Two women
shared their present experience with a loved one who is dying. We talked
about society's distaste for the conversation in general and attendees were
very receptive to having a place to talk about death.
Participants were given a page of resources for vetting funeral procedures and
arrangements, a link to Death Cafe and other sites, and a link to
a site that allows each person to create one legal document such as a
will for free. One link was given that had information for each state for
preparing advanced directives. I also handed out a paper with pagan
lyrics written to the tune of Amazing Grace by Elizabeth Cunningham,
novelist and interfaith minister, written 1995. People asked to
sing it right then and there so we did. Many found it uplifting and
Fifteen persons filled out the evaluation form. One lady declined. The
participants rated the cafe as good to excellent. Several thanked
us for offering vegan and vegetarian snacks. The moon pies were especially
well received. We served up food and drink in aprons specially
made for the occasion of Death Cafes and they had dancing skeletons on them.
When asked if participating in this Death Cafe would have any
influence on how to deal with death/dying in the future three participants said
they had a better idea of how to deal with death from talking to
others and in reviewing the resource page provided to them. Most said while
they were glad to be at the Death Cafe the experience did not change how they think about death/dying.
All would recommend attending a Death Cafe to friends. Words used to
describe this Death Cafe included comfortble, communal, informative,
enlightening, uplifting, supportive, useful, enjoyable, tasty, safe,
emotional, loving, open, fun, warm, friendly and helpful,