Death Cafe Press Clippings


For one day only, residents are invited to talk about this complex, painful topic...

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Death – and what you want after you die – is the conversation nobody wants to have. Unless, of course, you're librarian Andrea Castillo and have led discussions at the local Death Cafe.  

"I had started as a person kind of trying to confront my own anxieties about death," Castillo explained...

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A Dispatch From a Boulder Death Cafe

Posted by Jools Barsky on May 10, 2021, 11:46 a.m.


ince September 2011, small groups of people across the world have gathered over tea and cake to discuss mortality. I went to one in Boulder to learn how COVID-19 and the King Soopers shooting are impacting those conversations....

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At the Death Cafe, the topic is dying with a side of cake

Posted by Diana Brooks on Aug. 28, 2020, 2:55 p.m. 1 comment


People need to talk about the taboo more than ever. A Pasco group gets it done.

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A conversation about death over tea and cake

Posted by Nick Wilde on May 4, 2020, 8:17 a.m. 1 comment


Kristeligt Dagblad, (Christian Daily), Tuesday, April 28, 2020 Section 1 Page 4
Coronavirus has made the so-called death cafes popular, though they must now be done online.
People around the world are grieving these days, either because they have lost family members or friends, or because so many others have died due to the coronavirus. It has made the so-called death cafes popular and launched a new edition where people who do not necessarily know each other meet across continents at virtual online cafes to work out their grief.
Nick Wilde, who opened a death cafe in Bedford in England in 2013 and later another in Newport on the British Isle of Wright in 2017, among others, is hosting a virtual edition this afternoon, Tuesday, April 28 at 4 pm Danish time, which is open to all.
"For example, one of the participants will be from Sri Lanka," says Wilde, who himself attended another virtual death café last Sunday.
"Some join because they have lost loved ones, others are health care workers who have cared for the dying. Some have taken care of dying family members and friends and need to share their experience," says Nick Wilde.
Judging by the mention on social media and the internet site Death Cafe, there have been hundreds of virtual meetings since the outbreak of coronavirus. The British newspaper The Guardian wrote earlier this month that death cafes are reporting a boom in interest.
"In these difficult times when death is getting closer to us, it is very important to have a forum where we can talk about our fears and concerns," psychotherapist Sue Barsky Reid told The Guardian.
In 2011, together with Municipal Development Manager Jon Underwood, she opened the first death cafe in England, which developed into the organization Death Cafe. Following Underwood's death in 2017, Jools Barsky Jon's sister is now the leader of the movement along with his mother Sue and Donna his wife.
Death Cafes are usually a physical meeting where participants drink coffee and like to eat cake while discussing life and death, but the coronavirus has forced them to move online. Fritz von Coelln of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, at the University of California is one of the organizers of the Death Café every week.
He has posted a clip on Youtube where you can see how he asks the 15 participants to smile and wave to each other for a start.
Usually, a group of retirees meet every Friday at the Death Café at the California Institute, where the goal is to help people talk about death. The cafe was started by Fritz von Coelln in 2013 after he lost his wife who died of cancer.
"I thought we would live forever," he told the local newspaper, the Orange County Register.
When his wife died, he ended up being able to accept death and now runs the cafe, where you can talk about grief, but also culture of death and philosophy.
At Death Cafes, as well as many other places, the outbreak of coronavirus is getting into a discussion about whether the pandemic will change our perception of death, and how humans should and can handle the many deaths. Even if you do not personally know someone who has died from the virus, it is normal to feel grief anyway, says David Kessler, one of the world's experts in grief for the American magazine Harvard Business Review.
He believes that people feel different kinds of grief, partly because you notice that the world has changed and has become uncertain.
"As an airport was different after 11.
September, things are going to change now, and it's happening right now. The loss of normality, the fear of economic crisis, the loss of togetherness.
It hits us and hits hard, "he says.
According to Kessler, it is necessary to go through a lot of stages such as denial, anger and sadness, because you feel a loss of control before you end up accepting: "It is through acceptance that you get the strength to act. we feel in control again. 'I can wash my hands.
I can keep a safe distance. I can figure out how to work virtual '. "And in that situation, a conversation with others at a death cafe can also help, as Nick Wilde explains on the phone from the UK.
"Death Cafes are especially about accepting that death is inevitable, rather than fighting. Many people find it good to meet with others and discuss it over a cup of tea and cake."
utzon@k.dk
In these difficult times when death comes closer to us, it is very important to have a forum where we can talk about our fears and concerns.
SUE BARSKY REID, PSYCHOTHERAPIST.

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Attending one of the Capital Region’s only roaming cafes comes with a few conditions: keep an open mind and feel free to discuss death. At least that’s the case with Death Cafe Albany. “My friends say ‘You need to change the name’ I say ‘That’s the point,’ ” said Kate Murray, one of the Death Cafe Albany hosts.

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Sue in conversation with Jools Barsky, co-founder of the Death Cafe movement about how Death Cafes help us to live consciously for a better world...  

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An evening at the Death Café

Posted by Jools Barsky on Nov. 12, 2019, 11:20 a.m.


A POINT OF VIEW,  BBC RADIO 4

WRITER:  SARAH DUNANT

PRODUCER: AEDELE ARMSTRONG 

 

An evening at the Death Café

  

 

A couple of months ago, I spent an evening at a “ death café’. If that phrase

means nothing to you, then I should say immediately that it has nothing to do with

assisted suicide, shades of grey sexuality or even some misguided dress fetish,

harking back to the goth era.

On the contrary, it was an exceedingly respectable encounter. Held in a café

in a small town in Gloucestershire, a group of maybe fifteen or sixteen people who

had never met each other gathered in response to posters and local advertising. The

age range was wide: from a young woman in her twenties up through both men and

women in their 60’s or older, and for the next couple of hours in groups and

together over tea, coffee and cakes we talked about death. 

Two facilitators helped to run the evening. After a short introduction, they

asked us each to say a little about ourselves and why we were there. Anyone who’s

experienced any kind of group therapy will know it’s important for everyone to find

their voice early so they will be comfortable talking more. And when the subject is

death, comfort is pretty important. 

For reasons of confidentiality I can’t tell you what other people said, though I

betray no secrets if I say a couple of them were dealing with the prospect more

immediately, either for themselves or someone close. A few others had worked all

their lives in the caring professions so had experience of dealing with death, and

having moved on or retired felt this was a good time for them to think about it a

more personal way. Some wanted more practical help.  Thinking ahead as what

should go into that folder to be left behind. Copies of the will, funeral plans, financial

papers, maybe the letter one wanted to write to one’s children or next of kin. Then

there were more existential questions. But if I can’t disclose other people’s stories, I

can tell you what I said. Though you’ll have to believe me when I add that I didn’t

really know what was going to come out of my mouth until I opened it. I had come –

I thought - in a rather dispassionate way. As a novelist working in history, I’ve spent a

lot of my life resurrecting the dead, yet never connected their passing with my own

and I also felt, like many people I suspect, that we simply don’t talk about enough

about it, and I wanted to confront that. 

But when it came to my turn what I actually said was this: that I had been in

my early 30’s when my father died.  And that his illness and death – one following

close on the other - had poleaxed me emotionally, so that I found myself drowning in

grief, a state that lasted for a debilitating length of time.  That that was many years

ago now but that as an adult with grown up children myself I was worried that my

own death (which is certainly not imminent as far as I know) might have the same

impact on them. And it seemed to me that one of my last jobs as a parent was to –

well, I suppose - show them how to die well. To make it somehow part of life, so

they in turn might eventually might find it easier when it came to their own. 

 

Looking back on it, it was a tall order for a couple of hours chat and in the

end I didn’t get talk very much about that. Which was maybe no bad thing, because

while it happened a long time ago, reliving it is still unnerving. 

After a while, the group divided into two sections. Those who had come for

practical help and those who wanted – and I can think of no other way of saying this

–  to find a way to) living day to day with the idea of dying.  

It is the most extraordinary thing about humans – that along with our – albeit

limited ability to prepare for an unknown future - we find it very hard to accept the

unassailable fact of our own end.  It is literally impossible to imagine how it will be

when we are dead. Which in itself is absurd, because of course “we” will not be

there, for it to “be” anything at all. And yet the dread remains. And with it all those

answerable questions about the meaning of life.

Historically, religion offered -and for many people still does - a terrific solace.

I have no wish to change anybody’s ’mind on the idea of life after death. Indeed,

there are times when I feel a kind of raw envy for it.  Secular gurus might wax lyrical

about the joy of the evolutionary journey alla Richard Dawkins, but it doesn’t scratch

my itch when it comes to grappling with the thought of my own extinction. 

For the longest time, because death so often came accompanied by

unalleviated suffering -  it served to concentrate the mind mightily on what might be

to come. Heaven – like happiness – tends to write white, but walk into any church

where images of the past are preserved - and as a student of renaissance my mind is

full of them – and hell is technicolour, screaming agony. 

Interestingly, when western society started on the path that would alleviate

many of the death agonies, the arrival of analgesics in the mid 19th century, the only

voices to question the wonder came from inside in the church, fearing that making

death easier might make people turn less readily to God as they approached it. 

Hell is a largely discredited place these days. And death, once such a stable of

existence; infant mortality, plagues, epidemics and hundred other killer illnesses, has

much less dominion over us thanks to the astonishing progress of medical science.

Not to mention the rise and rise of consumer culture. In terms of the landmarks rites

of passage:  birth, marriage and death, the first two are doing a roaring trade: the

import of baby showers from America and the current lunatic extravagance of

weddings. In contrast, death lives in the shadows – for most in takes places in the

sanitised environment of a hospital, followed by a brief ritual in a perfectly

manicured crematorium in some out of town location; opportunities for event

management strictly limited.  Apart from royal or superstar deaths, there is little

opportunity for grief as shared bonding or a reason for pomp and pageant – not to

mention the expenditure that, for instance, many wealthy Victorian went in for.  Our

19th ancestors may have had trouble talking about sex, but they had no qualms

going public with a good funeral. 

Our lack of experience when it comes to handling death – has, not

surprisingly, made it more frightening. And it is that fear – and that silence - that the

Death Café was founded to address. It was the brain child of the

Swiss sociologist and anthropologist Bernard Crettaz – a way to challenge what he

called "tyrannical secrecy"  over dying.  In 2004 He began to organise and facilitate

small gatherings of people in an informal setting to talk, in whatever way they

 

wanted, about their own or other people’s demise. Through him and the continued

work of  ts British founder, Jon Underwood, who died painfully young in 2017, the

Death Cafe has inspired thousands of gatherings in many different parts of the

world. Each in their own way, I suspect, as varied as the one I attended 

So, what did we get out of the evening? Well, I’m not sure there were any

great revelations but then I don’t think that was the point. For a valuable couple of

hours, we all talked about death as if it was a part of being alive. And it gave me

some personal insight. 

At a certain point, I found myself retelling a particularly raw moment in my

father’s dying. When, as I sat at his bedside – and it would have been only a few days

before he died - he said to me.  ‘You know I am going to miss you so much. ‘

I think it was that admission that unlocked the sluice gates on my grief. And it

was so painful that I had decided I must never say such a thing to my own children. 

Because of course, it would be them not me who would do the missing. 

The facilitator listened gently, before going on to point out that it had clearly

been something my father had needed to say. In effect, it was the greatest

expression of love he could offer me. And if we were going to start giving death a

more natural place in our lives, then we, the living, would have to learn how to

better support and listen to those doing the dying. Because at that moment it was

not about us, but about them. 

So, would I visit another death café? Certainly. If just to be among a group of

strangers willing to talk about something we usually ignore.  As to whether it might

help me when it comes to my own dying? Alas, that is something I will not be able to

come back to tell you about.

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Huge thank you to the VC Reporter and Kimberly Rivers for the cover article on Death Cafes in Ventura County, CA. 

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Stamford's first Death Cafe opens with a message

Posted by Jools Barsky on Sept. 20, 2019, 10:35 a.m.


Stamford’s first Death Cafe has opened up serving a message that we should make the most of our “finite” lives...

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Glasgow director Kally Lloyd-Jones on life and death

Posted by Jools Barsky on Sept. 20, 2019, 10:33 a.m.


A PIECE of dance theatre about dying – accompanied by an after-show Death Café – comes to Glasgow tomorrow...

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Talking about death is a tricky topic for many of us reserved Brits. But Death Cafe is on a mission to break this stigma. Far from being creepy and morbid...

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A pop-up death cafe has been held in Adelaide to spark conversations and help people overcome their fear of dying.

Conversations about life and death might not be common over coffee and cake, but almost 30 people gathered at church in Walkerville, in Adelaide's north-east, to chat about wakes, wills and last wishes...

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Death Cafe Cambridge in Acute Hospital Trust

Posted by penny on June 3, 2019, 7:50 a.m.


Cambridge university hospitals NHS trust hosted a Death Cafe by the DeathCafeCambridge movement.

It was brought about by Dying Matters week in the UK in May and whilst the momentum of Death Cafe is picking up speed, the host felt the need to bring these conversations to the staff in the acute teaching hospital in Cambridge, UK. 

It was a first for the hospital and plans are in place to make Death Cafe CUH a regular event to give staff a safe place to talk about issues around death and dying. I am pleased that it was welcomed and reviewed so positively. Patients and visitors were also welcome to attend.  

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