Death Cafes

Death Cafes are spreading. A collection of fascinating, normal individuals united by a wish to discuss mortality met at a trendy coffee shop called Cakey Muto in Hackney, east London. Taking tea and scones with death turned out to be rather a lot of fun. What is believed to be the first official British death cafe took place in September last year, organised by former council worker Jon Underwood. Since then, around 150 people have attended death cafes in London. "We don't want to shove death down people's throats," Underwood says. "We just want to create an environment where talking about death is natural and comfortable." He got the idea from the Swiss model (cafe mortel) invented by sociologist Bernard Crettaz, the popularity of which gained momentum in the Noughties and has since spread to France. Underwood is keen to start a death cafe movement in English-speaking countries and his website (deathcafe.com) includes instructions for setting up your own. He has already inspired the first death cafe in America.

This news item interested me for three reasons:

I have written a book about making a good death entitled 'Before We Say Goodbye' and have received deeply moving letters from people who have been helped by it.

One of those is David Colman, who asked me by email to accompany him in my prayers on his final journey, but who this week opened up his journey to all on Facebook.

The third reason is that I was riveted to listen to the new CD song from my friend Joel McKerrow of Australia. It ends like this:

It was not that we became silent it was that silence became us

it was not that I stopped looking, it was that my eyes found that they could no longer see

it was not that She took my breath away, it was that my lungs saw no need to rise again

it was not that I gave up walking, it was that my legs refused to move when I took off my shoes on such holy ground as this

Posted at 07:46am on 31st October 2013
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