Discuss death at Cranbrook’s first ‘Death Cafe’

Discuss death at Cranbrook’s first ‘Death Cafe’

This Wednesday, Cranbrook residents will have the opportunity to participate in the city’s first Death Cafe

Few topics of conversation are as scrupulously avoided as the topic of death. Over the last decade, however, Death Cafes have sprung up in Europe and North America, making it easier for people to discuss death, dying, and grieving with each other. This Wednesday, Cranbrook residents will have the opportunity to participate in the city’s first Death Cafe.

“There’s been a growing movement worldwide recognizing that by not talking about death and all the complicated things surrounding it, we’re robbing ourselves of of some of the complexity of life,” said Vine Madder, one of the event coordinators. “So we decided to create a Death Cafe here. It’s a small thing we can do to help make life in our community a little richer.”

The idea for the cafe originated with Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz; he was inspired by Europe’s cafes philosophiques and cafes scientifiques and modelled his first cafe mortel on those. He was inspired by the tradition of people meeting informally to talk about important topics. Crettaz held hundreds of cafes mortels before retiring in 2014. Following in Crettaz’s footsteps, web designer Jon Underwood initiated a death cafe movement in England and ultimately created an informational website (deathcafe.com). Over the last decade, thousands of Death Cafes have been held around the world.

“It’s a little hard to explain what a Death Cafe is. Maybe it’s easier to explain what it isn’t. It’s not an information session run by experts about wills or funerals, or a bereavement group run by professional counsellors,” explained Sioux Browning, the Cranbrook event’s co-coordinator. “Rather, it’s a safe place for people to get together and talk about whatever death-related things are on their minds. Maybe that is wills or funerals or grief. Maybe it’s something else. There is no fixed agenda. But there will be tea and cake.”

Madder and Browning note that while people are frequently hesitant at first to attend this type of event, participants usually come away from the cafe feeling relief or even joy. “We tend to bottle up these kinds of conversations and letting them out can be liberating,” noted Madder.

Cranbrook’s first Death Cafe will be held Wednesday, June 6, at 7 pm at 131 7th Avenue South. Attendees are asked to text an RSVP to 250 464 9613.