12th Death Café, (filmed) at Café Rouge in Hampstead, London, UK on 12 May 2014

We hold monthly Death Cafes at Cafe Rouge in Hampstead. April would have been our first anniversary there, but there was no Death Cafe in April this year. So our we celebrated the anniversary in May. The date fell on Monday 12 May and was part of Dying Matters Awareness Week 2014. So we advertised it as part of that and held it during the afternoon. That Death ACfe got fully booked. This, second Death Cafe of the day, our 13th Death Cafe, was held in the evening of 12 May 2014 and specially put on so it could be filmed for a South Korean TV documentary ‘Dying Well’. To my surprise it also got fully booked. The room was filled to capacity, 32 people crowding around six small tables with a facilitator at each table. The format of the evening was as before: during the first half we had conversations around each table, introducing ourselves and why we are here, leading to a discussion around a variety of topics. This was followed by a short break. Unfortunately I cut short the first part of the evening by 30 minutes! My mistake as I was rushed and had not written out a time plan for the evening session and relied on the afternoon time plan which started 30 minutes past the hour. I did not realise this until the start of the plenary! It left people wanting more.

In the second half of the evening we came together in a large circle for the plenary. The TV crew filmed some of the first half and then returned after the end, to interview individuals. The film crew were kind and gentle people, very respectful.

Many people stayed on talking, either in groups or pairs, long after we had ended. It was a lively atmosphere. When I left it was well after 10pm, people were still buzzing. It was a very full day, especially for facilitators who had also attended the earlier Death Café in the afternoon. But it was a good day!

At this Death Café we had a huge number of people booked, a fair number cancelled before or on the day. \

10 people came for the first time, 2 came for the second time, 1 attended three times and 7 came 4 -9 times! Plus our 6 facilitators who all attended many times before.

It was a great evening! Thank you to everyone who came and made it such a tremendous event! Josefine Speyer

Co facilitators this evening: Sharon Young, Philomena Corrigan, Salli Lovett, Bernie Folan, Caroline Dent, John Karter and David Spofforth.

Write up by Bernie Folan who facilitated that evening.
22 forms: returned
14 female / 7 men / 1 other (wanted to be asked in “a less binary way”)
Average age: 55 (women: 52.5 / men: 60.2)
10 for the first time / 2 once before / 2 twice before / 8 three or more times
Rating out of ten: 9.5 (women 9.9 / men 8.7 )



Ages: 62F - 70M - 60M - 50M- 55F-35F-71F-41F-61F-78M-27F-62F-82F-57F-65M-42M-43F-57M-62F – 35F – 66F – 29O

Score: 10F-8M-8M-10M-10F-10F-10F-10F-10F-9M-10F-10F-10F-9F-8M-8M-10F-10M-10F – 10F – 10F– 10O

Visits before: N-N-N-N-6+-5-3-3-N-2-N-1-N-8-1-2-5+-N-N –N -3-7


Feedback from participants:


First time time – Score: 10/10 - 62yr female - Actor, Administrator, Roleplayer - Growing up Christian; now 80% humanist/20% Buddhist (without the notion of reincarnation).

Experience: It was as much fun as I expected. I imagined that people willing to discuss death would be open and courageous people so... Who wouldn't want to spend time with them? In short, I enjoyed it and was energised by it.

Dissatisfaction?: Nothing at all was uncomfortable. It was gentle and there was no unpleasant pressure.

Motivation:: Underlined: prepare for own death - learn about end of life issues. Sense of adventure and new experiences / Health of a partner.

Heard from: Google search

DC Plans?: No


First time time – Score: 10/10 - 57yr male - Customer Service rep - No religion growing up or now.

Experience: An environment which encouraged attendees to share their opinions and ask questions.

Dissatisfaction?: Limited time unfortunately. Otherwise I felt completely relaxed and felt others were at ease also. Look forward to another.

Motivation:: selected 'been bereaved/ prepare for own death / learn about end of life issues.

Heard from: online

DC Plans?: No


5+ times – Score: 10/10 - 43yr female - Market Researcher - Brought up Catholic, none now - rather anti-organised religions.

Experience: thought-provoking. Unexpected. Humane. Compassionate.

Dissatisfaction?: hard to hear. Maybe a theme could be offered as a back-up if facilitator feels it's needed.

Motivation:: Prepare for death of loved ones and just because it's fascinating.

Heard from: Josefine's email

DC Plans?: Maybe


2 before - 8/10 - 42yr male - Insurance - No religion growing up or now.

Experience: As before, very open, respectful and life affirming. We talked a lot about suicide, quality of life and how that would affect your decisions.

Dissatisfaction?: None

Motivation:: Underlined all(been bereaved/prepare for own death/learn about end of life issues. It always sounds like an interesting evening.

Heard from: from a friend.

DC Plans?: No


1 before - 8/10 - 65yr male - Musician - Brought up Chirch of England, now agnostic.

Experience: Positive. Thought provoking. Challenging. Possibly a more "structured" session might be fruitful. Although freedom and spontaneity are welcome and desirable, I am wondering whether I will take away enough in the way of conclusions.

Dissatisfaction?: /

Motivation:: Underlined "want to prepare for my own death".

Heard from: Online

DC Plans?: /


First time - 9/10 - 57yr female - Psychotherapist - No religion growing up; now - agnostic.

Experience: I was encouraged to think about end of life arrangements. What do I want? How do I want it? I can do it my own way. I like to die in an authentic way. There is no right or wrong way.

Dissatisfaction?: No

Motivation:: Underlined prepare for own death; learn about end of life issues.

Heard from: Radio 4

DC Plans?: No


First time - 10/10 - 82yr female - Infant teacher and medical secretary - No religion growing up or now.

Experience: Rather odd to be talking about my accumulated ailments that now make no sense in my "real" life to people who are interested to hear about someone else.

Dissatisfaction?: My present level of deafness makes it sometimes impossible to hear a point that's being made in general. I don't think there's anything to suggest for improvement - just inevitable!

Motivation:: I liked the idea of talking about death. Also curiosity.

Heard from: heard from attendee at FATE/SOARS meeting.

DC Plans?: No


First time - 10/10 - 62yr female - Tutor - Brought up Protestant/Lutheran. Now Buddhist

Experience: Very inspiring and calming as I feel amongst people I trust and can learn from on this subject.

Dissatisfaction?: Just wanted more time to talk in a small group.

Motivation:: Underlined Been bereaved; prepare for own death; learn about end of life issues.

Heard from: Friend

DC Plans?: Perhaps in NW London


First time - 10/10 - 27yr female - Student (Masters) / Art curator- Not brought up in a particular religion but studied religion & philosophy from high school. Brought up Catholic. Now Open and Free thinker.

Experience: Refreshing. I came here after a terrible long day of class but hearing others open up and being honest myself in my experiences and feelings on death is energising. Thankyou Josefine!

Dissatisfaction?: Nothing came to mind.

Motivation:: To learn more about and perception and treatment of this inevitable event and one day curate an art exhibition on the theme. I want to learn how to help those nearing death and those to be aware (not afraid) of it.

(Also underlined prepare for own death; learn about end of life issues).

Heard from: Online/Time Out magazine.

DC Plans?: /


Third time- 9/10 - 78yr male - Family mediator - No religion as child or now.

Experience: Very positive, as I felt I could share important thoughts and feelings and relate to what the other people in my group were saying. The only negative for me was not to be able to hear what was being said sometimes because the level of noise in the room was very high and I have a hearing problem.

Dissatisfaction?: What I mentioned above. I can't think of a way for this to be remedied.

Motivation:: A wish to reach a greater level of acceptance of my death.

Heard from: I think through a newspaper.

DC Plans?: No


First time - 10/10 - 61yr female - Costume designer working mainly in USA - Brought up Catholic. Now protestant & enjoying it a great deal.

Experience: It was ? good conversation

Dissatisfaction?: No. It was great.

Motivation:: A friend told me about it and I was interested.

Heard from: Friend

DC Plans?: not yet


3 visits - 10/10 - 41yr female - Manager. Brought up with christianity /. Now' n/a'

Experience: although I've been 3x, I'm amazed at how much I learn and how many 'new' ideas and thoughts surface. Really enjoyed the intimate conversation within our small group.

Dissatisfaction?: It was a great session. Nothing.

Motivation:: circled 'I have been bereaved'

Heard from: Media

DC Plans?: no


3 visits - 10/10 - 71yr female - therapist and writer - Brought up Christian. Now spiritual- general.

Experience: Lively,exciting, honest, educational.

Dissatisfaction?: No. Suggestion: might we have a minute of silence at the beginning to become really present.

Motivation:: circled 'I have been bereaved'

Heard from: Friend

DC Plans?: No


5 visits - 10/10 - 35yr female - Personal trainer - End of Life doula. Brought up /. Now spiritual.

Experience: interesting as usual to hear different people's views based on their different life experiences.

Dissatisfaction?: Just waiting over an hour for my food which they forgot.

Motivation:: circled 'wish to learn about end of life issues'

Heard from: Josefine's email

DC Plans?: /



6+visits - 10/10 - 55yr female - Design - Artist-Doula. Brought up CofE -lapsed!. Now spiritual, not religious.

Experience: I love the death cafe. I love being with people who are equally open to exploring what death is and what it means and how our attitude towards it affects the way we live. I always leave feeling more alive than when I arrived!

Dissatisfaction? /

Motivation:: I am training as an end of life doula.

Heard from: /

DC Plans?: /



Not been before - 10/10 - 62yr female - Arts organiser & several other jobs. Not working now. No religion as child or now.

Experience: very nice people and great to be able to be so open about death without the usual horrified response.

Dissatisfied?: was worried at the beginning about being able to hear each other. As we were such a small group, it wasn't too bad - but think the room acoustics could be a problem. But otherwise it's a nice room!

Motivation:: I do have a very limiting illness but I was mainly motivated by just wanting to talk about death openly with other people.

Heard from: A friend

DC Plans?: Not yet but I live near Archway so would love an even more local one.



Not been before - 8/10 - 70yr male - Office work - about 20+yrs in computers. Brought up Christian. Now fundamentalist atheist.

Experience: Quite strange. I was able to talk to strangers about things I have never been able to discuss with friends or family. I think the word is cathartic.

Dissatisfaction?: not the event itself. No one collected payment for the glass of wine I had - I'll go to the bar on the way out to pay there.

Motivation:: At 70, I will have to accept that I might not be immortal.

Heard from: Internet

DC Plans?: No


Not been before - 8/10 - 60yr male - No profession given - Brought up Roman Catholic. Now none.

Experience: very interesting, invigorating and freeing. Death should be a normal subject for conversation and here that was shown to be a positive thing.

Dissatisfaction?: The staff (one) when I came in: would have turned around and walked out again if I didn't have a specific reason for being here.

Motivation:: I was almost killed in a RTA last year: it changes your perspective.

Heard from: Radio 4

DC Plans?: Blank



Not been before - 10/10 - 50yr male - Film animator. Brought up Catholic/Irish. Now same/broader/open-minded to any possibility.

Experience: Very good. Felt able to say what I wanted. Non judgmental. Fascinated about other peoples' experiences. Relaxed atmosphere. Great mix of people. Good humour which surprised me. I was anxious it would be depressing but I left feeling full of life - it cheered me up! :-)

Dissatisfaction?: No, can't think of anything. Maybe more cake??

Motivation:: being able to talk about death without being called "The Doomonger"!

Heard from: Friend

DC Plans?: No


Not been before - 10/10 - 35yr female - Lecturer. Brought up Christian. Now agnostic.

Experience?: This was my First time death café experience and I utterly enjoyed it. I liked the space and the way it run, conversation flowed and I’ve learned a lot.

Dissatisfaction?: Perhaps we could focus on specific themes but then we would not have the opportunity to share our experiences and let different themes come up which was great really.

Motivation?:  Circled  I have been bereaved / I want to prepare for my own death / I wish to learn about end of life issues / Other: I am interested in cultural & language/narrative aspects of death.

Heard from: Death Café website

DC plans: Yes


3-4 before - 10/10 – 66+yr female - Artist/Writer/Singer/Grandmother. No religion growing up . Now buddhist/one energy

Experience?: Excited People, v keen to talk, going into deep issues: most let the others speak, listening well, offering suggestions. Someone said: You HAVEN’T made a formal will yet?!
Hmm. Yep. More to do – even a LIVING WILL needs signing?!

Dissatisfaction?: More of this. And perhaps a topic, provocative or deep, to start us off. Push us. A light Description: http://www.webweaver.nu/clipart/img/entertainment/music/music-notes1.gif at the end.

Motivation?:  Father of 97 and new palpitations! Green burial celebration planting.

Heard from: Through Josefine Speyer

DC plans: Maybe



7 before - 10/10 – 29yr “other” (Please make this question less binary so everyone feels comfortable answering xx )- PhD student. Catholic growing up . Now buddhist/Quaker.
Experience?: I am glad it exists and glad I came. It wasn’t as emotional or eye-opening or challenging as I had thought it might be, but I’m glad I came.

Dissatisfaction?: I wish the facilitation had been more proactive – sticking to questions and balancing the turns more. I would have liked to move through more issues and spend less time on personal stories (though those are good too).

Motivation?:  Circled:I want to prepare for my own death / I wish to learn about end of life issues / Other: I find considering the realities of death helps me be grateful I am alive.

Heard from: A news story via Facebook

DC plans: Yes! I’d like to! In North London.





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