An expression of thanks

Posted by Aileen

Since I just entered the dates for the Death Cafe in Linz, Austria, in January, February, March, and April, I want to take a moment to express my thanks for this wonderful format. Every time I add another Death Cafe to the web site here and come to the question at the end about adhering to the guidelines, I hesitate, I think about it again, before I click on “I agree”. I do, in fact, have very strong views of my own, but I take the guidelines very seriously, so it is always a reminder to keep the conversation open and not push my own views. And the conversations that develop then are always wonderful and absolutely worth the self-restraint on my part.


The Linz Death Cafe – Mit dem Tod bei Kaffee und Kuchen takes place once a month, always on a Sunday at Kepler Salon Linz, where we start at three o’clock and generally end between five and six. Sometimes the group is small, only eight to ten people, but we have also had groups of twenty to twenty-five people. I always arrange the room ahead of time so that we can divide up into two groups if there are more than about sixteen people. There are a number of regulars who come nearly every month, quite a few returning guests who come irregularly, and always new people, who are warmly welcomed. To be part of conversations that are always so open, generous, and empathetic is a real gift.



It seems that word has spread throughout the city as well. People sometimes approach me in the supermarket, on the street, at concerts to ask me about Death Cafe. They often apologize that they have not yet been able to come, but are still very much interested. People have also told me that they couldn’t come to a Death Cafe, because they were spending Sunday afternoon with their extended families, but ended up having important conversations with the family, when they mentioned that they would otherwise be at Death Cafe. Interest and encouragement are still very strong, and simply the fact that the Linz Death Cafe takes place is clearly sparking important conversations elsewhere as well.



My motivation for facilitating the Linz Death Cafe comes originally from my personal experience. When my sister committed suicide, my brothers and I agreed to speak openly about it, but what surprised me most was that when I talked about trying to come to terms with my sister’s death, people started telling me their stories too. I would never have dreamed that we are so many who live with the self-chosen death of someone close! And hearing some of the heartbreaking stories other people live with started to change the way I see people. You never know what hard things someone might be dealing with at any moment. Three years after my sister’s death, my husband was killed in a fatal climbing accident in the Alps. He was a colorful character and very widely known in this small city, so his death, at the age of only 49, had a huge impact. I was deeply touched by the outpouring of sympathy I was met with, but again I noticed that more people also needed to tell their own stories. When I first came across the idea of Death Cafe by chance, I thought it seemed a much better idea than people just waiting to find me alone with time to talk somewhere, but somehow I didn’t seem to be able to organize it initially. As I kept talking to people about the idea, though, one day a friend introduced me to Kepler Salon, a very low-threshold venue for alls kinds of lectures and discussions. Then everything fell into place, and the monthly Linz Death Cafe has been going now since November 2015 – with no end in sight.



I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to continue having these wonderful conversations, so I just want to express my thanks to Jon Underwood and everyone involved in organizing and promoting Death Cafe.



Maybe I will open a death cafe

Well it seems these death cafes are becoming quite popular, and so they should be. Death in the west seems to be the last topic of conversation that people want to talk about, but why? it should be thought about and spoken about just as much as speaking about the weather. After loosing my partner of 12 years only 5 years ago, my mother inlaw a year ago and my father inlaw 6 months ago, and my friends husband now has stage 4 cancer, death is something that doesn't shock me anymore. I said to my friend the other day, so have you and Bob spoken about his funeral arrangements? no she said, he doesn't want to talk about it, well I said, this is the time to be open to discussing it, what sort of funeral does he want? what music does he want played? does he want to be buried or cremated? talking about this with him now is a good time, he may not be here tomorrow. So my little town of Cairns in Tropical North Queensland in the land down under could do with a death cafe, it's something I will think about.

Posted by lozzi

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