International Death Café Movement
The seeds for the idea of death café were sown by Bernard Crettaz of Switzerland in the early 2000’s and Jonathan Underwood of London, England now leads the current international movement. In 2013, there were fewer than 100 death cafes being held worldwide and that number has now grown to well over 1,500. These events are being hosted in countries such as China, Taiwan, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Japan, Canada, the U.S., the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and many others. This is a movement whose time has come!
What Death Café Is
A death café is an open forum where people who are interested in the many topics associated with death and dying can come together to discuss subjects of their choice, fears around dying, and stories they may want to share with others. It is an event (usually two hours in duration) that is inclusive of all religions and philosophies and choices of hospice care (should that be a topic of discussion). There is no intent of leading participants to any particular conclusion, product, or course of action and these events are held in an open, respectful, and confidential space. All views are welcome and honored. Death cafes are facilitated by one or more facilitators and topics of discussion are determined by participants. Death cafes are always free.
What a Death Café is Not
A death café is not a bereavement or grief support group. It is also not a forum for telling long stories of life events or a platform for promoting any particular philosophy or selling products.
Goals of a Death Café
Goals: To help people be more comfortable with the many facets of death and dying, overcome their fears about dying, understand that only by embracing death can one fully live, be aware that comfort with dying is available in this country, learn more about the culture of dying in America, and feel safe enough to discuss their personal death and dying experiences. We also hope that these discussions will open up needed dialogue between family members, so that each family member can know what the others want done for them at the end of life.