Marin Death Cafe Sept 10 2014

A write up of Marin Death Cafe

By Nancy Rhine

Marin Death Café

Sept 10 2014

Mt Tam United Methodist Church

6:30 – 8PM

Facilitators: Nancy, Teresa, Kim, Norma Jean


Attendees: 43 people, not including facilitators

9 men, 34 women

Age range: approximately 30 years old to 92 years old

Things that worked this time:

·         Having no RSVP requirement was so much easier! So having a large enough space to accommodate varying numbers is good.

·         People brought plenty of cake. J

·         Having more facilitators made for a more positive experience for participants

·         Marin IJ “In Your Town” blurb and then being on the front page of the 2nd Section the day of brought more last minute interest and phone calls

·         Emphasizing confidentiality and “no advising” is essential every time.

Things to think about doing differently next time (based on feedback)

·         Try using a bell to more gently interrupt sessions

·         Go shorter with first small group and longer with second one when folks are “warmed up”

·         Go for two hours rather than 1.5

·         Stay in one small group if going for 1.5 hrs

·         Have a facilitator for each small group of 5 = 6 per group

·         Have something to eat that is non-sweet

Things to try in the future:

·         Day time group to accommodate older people who do not drive at night – especially going into winter

·         Saturday for working people if during day

·         If smaller number of people come, stay in one larger group – good for 12 people more or less

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Feedback from participants:

·         I enjoyed hearing the stories in our two groups and gained a bit of insight into others’ experiences

·         There was no structure – perhaps a discussion leader would help.

·         An important service to the community

·         It is refreshing to talk about my feelings about death and life.

·         Reassuring, interesting, informative

·         Perhaps clarify that this is not a “counseling session”

·         Attending did not affect my feelings about death and life but was useful to air out my thoughts

·         The first group was awkward, the second group was easy. Not sure how to make this better

·         Use a bell to end groups

·         The facilitation was very good, happy to have structure

·         Communal, interesting, safe

·         If someone asked me if they should go to a Death Café I would say “By all means, go!”

·         I think facilitators would help with the newness of the first group – someone who has been to a Death Café before. No facilitators needed for 2nd groups.

·         Death Café’s bring my feelings about death and life to the surface.

·         Deep, loving, supportive

·         Other comment: “Do it again!”

·         I love hearing people’s stories. We all have thoughts and feelings about life and death

·         I liked the “free form”, an organic process as it’s such a rich subject

·         Nice to have a venue where people don’t roll their eyes or put their fingers in their ears when I want to discuss death

·         Our groups were very loosely structured

·         Comfortable, innovative, thought-provoking

·         If someone told you they were thinking of going to a Death Café, what would you tell them? “Do it!”

·         Consider a theme question? E.g. Do you have a bucket list?

·         The small group discussion made me feel more comfortable and open

·         Stay in the same group for the event

·         Perhaps have wine and cheese

·         Thoughtful, sad, safe

·         It’s a unique experience but safe and comfortable to talk about life and death

·         Stay in the same group

·         So nice to have a venue like this – free and public, thank you Nancy and staff. I would like to come again to continue expanding my feelings about death

·         My feelings about death were not affected – not enough time – but my thoughts were expanded – more things to think about

·         I was perfectly comfortable with strangers

·         The structure of small groups after the welcome talk went well. It would have been nice to stay in one group longer. It may not have been necessary to break up at all.

·         Nancy did a great job explaining there is no agenda – grass roots movement

·         Yummy food – great variety

·         Interesting, informative

·         Would tell a friend “Absolutely, go”

·         Thanks again

·         Great idea

·         Good conversation – a start

·         Maybe a facilitator in each group just to get us going

·         “Do it”

·         Perhaps an outgrowth of the death café is to facilitate “communities” of people to care for each other in sickness and through death

·         It gave me a chance to explain my feelings about death and life

·         The experience varies depending on the group – some work better than others

·         Enlightening, refreshing, thought-provoking

·         If someone was thinking about going to a Death Café, what would you tell them? “Do it! It’s well worth the time and effort”

·         This was my first Death Café, but it won’t be my last.

·         Sharing fears and worries is good

·         Stay in same group for the whole time. Can develop intimacy and open up

·         Maybe just keep one group going

·         It was very good. I was very touched by some of the stories

·         It would have felt better if the groups were facilitated. In both groups there were one or two people who dominated the conversations so it was difficult for everyone to share. Especially for me because I tend to be a bit shy in groups

·         It would feel better to stay in one group. I just started feeling comfortable and safe in the first group when we were told to break and move to the next one

·         If facilitated - just to keep discussion going or encourage people to talk. Good to have 2 group experiences – perhaps 1st one shorter to “warm up” then longer one

·         Perhaps someone non-sweet to eat

·         Interesting, promising, thought-provoking

·         If someone asked you about going to a death café, what would you say? “Go! It’s not morbid – we all need to open up about this.”


·         Would like to have a few more sessions (not indefinite number) to really get into the issues

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