Virtual Immortality and mobile memento mori

A write up of Death Cafe Edmonton

By Gina Vliet

We were a small but mighty group for this week's November 19th gathering. But what amazing discussion! Two themes really stuck out for me during the evening. One was how the potential for living on virtually will impact how we define death and dying in the future. With the onset of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and our ongoing virtual lives on Facebook, etc., will we ever really die? David Eagleman’s idea of the third death came up. Will we die a third and final time, being forgotten, if we live on in the matrix forever?

We expanded that conversation to the concepts of the soul, karma, and zombies. What conversation on death is complete without mention of zombies, am I right? No conclusions were drawn, but we all had things to take away and to ponder.

The second theme that emerged and left me thinking well into the week began when I asked the question, “How would you like to be remembered?” We talked about cremated remains being used to create gems, pottery, and glass. We discussed the scattering of ashes, and green and traditional burial. The discussion that sprang from that was around our sense of place, and what will happen with traditional in situ burials when families no longer live in one place across multiple generations, and our ideas around family structure, tradition, and home become more fluid. Mobile memento mori begin to look much more appealing, as does scattering one’s ashes to the wind, to remain part of the global ecosystem, where our loved ones can continue to experience our energy and matter transformed.

The conversation again came to an end much too soon, but I love how much people are enjoying the opportunity to speak about death and dying without feeling weird about it. The interesting twists and turns of Death Café’s open format is such a testament to the variety of our experiences, but also to our shared human condition. Facilitating these sessions brings me such joy; I’d love to do it every week!

And then I had pie. Joy compounded. 

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