Lively Death Cafés

The latest fad is to drink coffee (or your favourite beverage) and to discuss death with acquaintances that you do not really know. We call these unique gatherings “Death Cafés or “Cafés mortels”.

The idea originated in Switzerland where Bernard Crettaz founded the Société d’études thanatologiques de Suisse Romande. Along with his wife Yvonne Preiswerk, he used to wonder about the rites and customs that accompany death in society. After Yvonne’s death in 1999, Bernard Crettaz kept on with his habit and started the concept of animations around the topic of death in a bistro which he called the Café mortel .

Often, a Death Café is a scheduled non-profit get-together for the purpose of talking about death, a taboo topic for many, with the goal of educating and helping others become more familiar with the end of life. The goal of these not-for-profit groups is to educate and help others become more familiar with the end of life. Hence, increasing awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their finite lives. A Death Cafe is organised over food and drink, usually tea and cake. The Café is a group directed discussion on death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It’s a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session, and it is conceived in an accessible, respectful and confidential space.

Death Cafés have spread quickly across Europe, North America and Australia since it was founded. It is now happening in 49 countries since 2011.

The idea has now reached Montreal (2013 ) and perhaps this could eventually become an activity for the “Écomusée de l’Au-Delà” group. As a member of this fine group, I plan to initiate this fall a death café in my area of les Cantons de l’Est ( Magog ). This bilingual project offers evenings in both official languages where Anglos and Francophones can discuss death and our finite lives.

I take this opportunity to thank the editor of this newsletter for giving me this forum to communicate with you in my maternal tongue of English. I deeply appreciate your open mindedness.

If you’re interested in holding a Death Cafe please see the how-to guide.

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