I attended my first death cafe Monday. After reflecting on the experience, I have a few things to share.
Death cafes are new - the first one in London happened September 2011 because of a fellow named Jon Underwood. According to the Death Cafe website, the objective to every death cafe is to "increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives." It isn't intended to serve as therapy or a grief support group. There is no agenda. No objectives. No promotions of any kind. Other than the guidance that there are no rules, it seems the single rule is there must be cake.
Kelli of Circle of Life Holistic Care ably hosted this death cafe with three beautiful cakes at B Sharp Coffee House. I hoped for a cup of Mad Chai, but it was so popular that there wasn't enough left for a proper cup. I settled on a delightful lemon tea and settled in a chair. Kelli introduced herself, explained the necessary adherence to the rule of cake, shared her story, and opened the floor.
The first person spoke. She said beautifully powerful, raw things. Then the next. And the next. And more.
They asked questions of each other. They uttered supportive words. They listened to understand and honor feelings. They shared courageously.
We heard stories of miscarriage, terminal illness, and accidents. We grieved babies, children, and adults. We grieved parents and grandparents. We passed tissues.
Death and grief are frustrating topics for discussion. We don't understand them. Our friends and family are uncomfortable with and disconcerted by them. We don't know what to say or how to act because we'd rather not expose ourselves long enough to gain that kind of necessary experience. Get through it. Button up. Move on. Two or three days should be enough for you to pull yourself back together and return to your life as it was.
That doesn't work for most people.
If you want to talk about it and with people who want to listen, Death Cafe is for you. The Death Cafe site lists events around the world - there might be one close to you or you can start your own.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.