My First Experience Of A Death Cafe

A little more than a year ago, a flier in the local library caught my attention. What made me pick it up was the header: DEATH CAFE. Beneath the title was an orange-and-black blurry picture of a woman and child on a path lined by shadowy trees. Upon looking closer, I read the words:

Come and talk about the kind of death YOU would like, and how you might go about achieving it – Death, like eating, is an essential part of life. If we talked about it more, we might fear it less.

I took it home, but was too shy to ask my parents to take me. I also failed to read the address on the piece of paper; part of the reason I didn’t want to go was because I thought the meeting would be held in an actual cafe far away from where I lived, but if I’d read the address I would have seen that it was in the library. I kept the leaflet and forgot about it

Guess what? Over a year later, the leaflet turned up, thanks to the house being tidied. I showed my parents and we speculated about it for a while. I then googled the URL on the flier, “www.deathcafe.com.” I found a whole website about it, detailing the history of the idea and who founded it, what it was, how it worked, and how and where to attend! There was even a section explaining how you could host your own. It turned out that The Death Cafe was not a cafe, but the name of a sort of organisation that arranges get-togethers where people talk about dying – while at the same time, drinking tea and eating cake. The point of a Death Cafe is to create a space where people can approach the topic without being morbid, or having others tell them not to talk about such things. It really isn’t somewhere you go for grief-counselling, nor do you have to be terminally ill to attend. According to the website, the point of eating cake at the meetings is to normalise the topic, and to take out some of the taboo associated with it; you are talking about death – something that allegedly brings it closer – but at the same time, doing something life sustaining: eating. That’s the symbolic interpretation!

I could not miss out on such an opportunity, but at the same time I was really shy about the idea of having a discussion with strangers. The message on the flier also looked really funny to me. Come and talk about the kind of death YOU would like, and how you might go about achieving it.

That made me imagine something like this:
 

RANDOM ATTENDEE 1: Well, I personally quite enjoy the idea of dying in a car crash, don’t you? I think I can achieve this by… maybe, not putting my seat belt on. And yeah, I’ll see how it goes from there… Does anyone else have similar ideas?

RANDOM ATTENDEE 2: I totally get what you mean! I’ve always had this fantasy of, like, dying in some sort of automobile accident. Ideally my head would smash against the front window, giving me concussion. Then, the car would, like, flip over and explode and go up in these really cool flames. Like whoooosh!  I would achieve this by… first sabotaging the airbag – although I would have to look up how to do that – and then I’d get in the car. I’d have to make sure not to put my seatbelt on. Then I would drive at 150 miles per hour towards any van in the vicinity… and SMASH. Kaput.

RANDOM ATTENDEE 1: I know, right? And I’d time my death so that it was on Halloween or Christmas, just for fun… or something like that.

RANDOM ATTENDEE 3: I also like the idea of specially timing my death. I’m quite interested in joining the 27 club. But I’d have to get quite famous in the meantime to become a proper member, you know what I mean? And I’d write, like, a really epic suicide note… in my own blood.

And then the next part of the message – Death, like eating, is an essential part of life. If we talked about it more, we might fear it less.

So if we talk about eating as well, we’ll fear it less? Personally, I’ve never been scared of eating. “Death, like eating is an essential part of life” – LOL.

Well, to reassure you, a Death Cafe is NOTHING like that. Soon after finding the leaflet, my mum discovered that there would be a meeting that day. Unfortunately, we waited till the last minute to find out the details. I ended up rushing to the room where my dad was working, asking him to take me that instant if we wanted to go, as we had no time to spare. We put our jackets on and hurried out of the house into the car. I was totally nervous. I had no idea what I was going to say. I thought about death a lot, but I had never finalised an idea of how exactly I wanted to die. For example, I used to want to die in my sleep, but now I hate the idea of that because it sounds sneaky. I want to be present at my death, I don’t want to just not wake up one day.

We turned up at the library about five minutes late. There were some chairs and sofas arranged in a square in the center of the room, with a coffee table in the middle. The lady organising it was really good, she managed to fill up any unnecessary gaps in the conversation with ease, avoiding any awkwardness. Her voice seemed confident and she seemed in control. She put me at ease right away, offering me a cup of tea (actually she had to make me three cups of tea because she accidentally put milk in the first two and I don’t drink milk LOL. So someone else had to drink them.) There were little cakes and biscuits on the table too, but I’m vegan so I couldn’t have them.

The discussion was way more practical than I had imagined. I’d thought that we’d be talking more philosophically, but the discussion was more about burials and their wills. I learned about an interesting concept called an “Advanced Decision,” which is a bit like a will, but it’s a document you sign that says, if it comes to it, whether you would like to be taken off life support, and other such decisions that you won’t be able to make if you have a condition that develops too far. You need a doctor to sign it to say that you were in a sound state of mind when you filled in your advanced decision, and it’s also good to review it every few years.

The age range seemed to be mostly 50+ but instead of excluding me or not taking me seriously, like I’d feared might happen, everyone seemed pleased that someone from my generation was there! I would totally go to another meeting like that, the discussion was really interesting and thought-provoking.

If you wanna find out more about Death Cafe – or go to one -, the link is in this post if you scroll up. But if you’re too lazy to scroll up, here it is again: www.deathcafe.com.

In the mean time, tell me: What kind of death would YOU like, ideally? And how would you achieve it? I’m really keen to hear your answers, so comment below please! Can’t wait to read them.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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14 thoughts on “My First Experience Of A Death Cafe

  1. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this post!!
    To be honest, I’m terrified of death… Much so that I want to live 100 years (because I can’t choose the “never dying” option).
    There are a lot of things that I don’t do probably to avoid death before “my time” (like no smoking, drugs, risky sports, fried food, going fast, no meat…. and the list goes on and on).
    I’d love to attend to one of those meetings, it’s still hard for me to understand how some people are so cool about death 🙂
    Again, GREAT post!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so, so so glad that you liked my post! It made me really happy to see what you said about it. Thank you for commenting.

      I used to be terrified of death as well, but I always knew it was inevitable. I remember when I was four, praying to “god” to – when the time came – make me die painlessly in my sleep, and make sure that all members of my family and and extended family died at exactly the same time to ensure that no-one would have to live without the others. LOL! But I was four.

      I did not know that not consuming meat makes you live longer! Well, I am glad for that. It’s an extra reason for me not to torture animals 🙂 The other day I watched a video about how animals are treated before they die and it was horrific. It made me at once glad to be human – because that crap doesn’t happen to us – and ashamed to be human because we are the ones responsible for treating animals like that. I think I’m going to be vegetarian long after Veganuary.

      Do try and attend one of the Death Cafes, I think you would enjoy the experience! I would like to go to another one some time as well.

      Once again, thank you for commenting. Have a good day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You too Jamila!! I truly LOVE your blog!!
        I had the same wish you had when you were 4 until I had my kids… I didn’t like the idea of causing (or feeling) pain either 😀
        And long ago, I read a saying, it was something like this: “When it’s going to be end of the world? The day I die”… And I think it’ll be pretty much like that (and I’m still terrified!!).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, I love your blog as well!

        I am more concerned about feeling pain than causing it – I can imagine never getting over/coming to terms with the death of someone I know, but I think that most people would get over my death faster. Not because they don’t like me, but because other people don’t let sadness affect them the way I do? Hope that makes sense!

        That is a really good quote – I might use it in one of my future blog posts. I also think it’s quite true, that really must be what it’s like. But I’m not as scared of dying as I used to be, because I think when you’re dead you can’t feel anything, not even the absence of your former self. You won’t feel bored or sad or miss being alive, because you won’t be able to feel anything! Still, I agree that the idea is very scary. It’ a fear of the unknown, isn’t it? And it’s the fact that we have evolved to want to spread our genes and stay alive no matter what the costs are, even though that is impossible because nothing lasts forever.

        Jamila x

        Liked by 1 person

      • It makes perfect sense!!
        And I have fear of the unknown and fear of leaving this life without doing/finishing all the things I want to do/see. Maybe it’s selfish (but honest!! :D).

        Like

  2. When I was little I was frightened of death because I thought I was going to hell. Back then religion scared me a lot. I think I would like to die in my sleep, that sounds the least painful of all deaths. I usually think that my time on Earth is going very fast and I can’t stop it and now that I will eventually die. Then again, we all will so I’m not alone. You go to many interesting places 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my…what a topic for one so young, but a topic that I believe we SHOULD be talking about at all ages – afterall, all of us will experience it some day and some of us (sad to say) SOONER than others. You’re “young in years”, with an “old (very WISE) soul”. You’re also very articulate in your writing and expression. I read your “bucket list”. If writing is something that you truly want to achieve, you will….You have a raw talent that’s ripe for “shaping”…Keep writing (and reading) to hone your style. You’ve got a voice that’s fresh and fluid. I know talent when I see/read it…..Good luck, Sweetie. I’ll drop in and check on you and thanks for your “follow”. I, too, have a “serious side” (like most humerorists do!), but write mostly humerous stuff on my daily life adventures. I feel honored with a “follow” by one so young! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lucie,

      Thank you a million times for reading and commenting on my blog – and following! It made me super happy to read what you said about my post. I honestly felt so encouraged by what you wrote to me; I will keep writing and reading, like you say! I used to read so much when I was younger, but now I read less. I don’t know why… I think it may be because I have discovered music and become obsessed with that instead 🙂 It is faster and offers more instant gratification, haha, but I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading – because I remember how enjoyable I found it when I was younger! It would be a shame to stop reading… I’ve met a lot of people who think that books are boring and I never used to understand why. Now I do but I still don’t want to land up like them LOL XD.

      Once again, thank you for your kind words and for encouraging me. I means A LOT that someone likes my writing!

      I can’t wait to read more of your posts 🙂

      Jaaaaaaamila (sorry, I just like writing my name like that haha…)

      Like

  4. Thanks for sharing this. Great topic.
    Eerie.
    I have read many Near Death Experiences (NDEs) .
    My favorite ones are the exceptional accounts here:
    http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Archives/Exceptional%20Accounts.htm
    I am convinced that the consiousness lives on after death.
    After a few years on the spiritual journey, I realized that the only real death ever is the dying of the separate self. And that can be reached before the physical death.

    I wish you much success on your life’s journey. You are a bold soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karin,

      Thank YOU for reading. I really appreciate others taking the time to read and hear my thoughts on this blog, so it means a lot that you stopped by and checked it out.

      I’ll see the link you sent me! I have been intrigued by NDEs for a long time. Thank you.

      Me too. I think death is just a transition, rather than an END. Well, obviously it’s an end for the body and mind, but not for the consciousness, or force. I don’t think that can die! I don’t really believe in death in a “normal” way, you know what I mean? I COMPLETELY agree with what you are saying about the death of the separate self being possible before physical death.

      Thank you so much. You have no idea how much that means to me. I wish you success as well. Have a good day and rest of your life.

      Liked by 1 person

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