Art of Dying Volume II | Page 73

then be ceremonially burned. In retrospect, it was all very controlling. I invited a few friends to the first Death Cafe. Afterwards my mum said, “That was really powerful, but all the writing and the burning and stuff—Jon, just let people talk.” So for the second Death Café we just let people talk, and that's what we've been doing ever since. BILL PALMER: Death Café personalized a whole bunch of experiences that I had had as a child and as an adult. I recall a grandmother of mine who passed away. My parents didn't tell me about it for a couple of days. They didn't want to upset me. I remember thinking – I was only seven or eight – what a stunning thing to do to not tell me that my grandmother died because you didn't want to upset me. There were other incidents like that. The other thing I noticed as a kid was that – I was embarrassed to say this at the time – I enjoyed funerals. I mean, I really liked going to funerals. The reason I liked it was not because I was happy that someone had died, but because of he way people treated each other. There rest of the time people weren’t behaving that way. Later in life, my mother as a hospice patient awakened d eath awareness. The hospice that she was in was a wonderful organization. They cared for her in a spectacularly compassionate way and also cared for my family, myself and friends. I was so taken that I decided to become a hospice volunteer. Here in Oakland, we have a wonderful sponsor, a place called Chapel of the Chimes, which is an incredible presence in the community in terms of opening up their grounds and their facilities. Our attendance has been pretty consistent since 2012. At first, we were swamped with people. We had too many people: 25, 30 people in a group. It can be really difficult in a two- hour segment to lead and manage a group like that, but that was just an initial wave. Now it's settled down to 10, 12, 15 people showing up. CHARLES DAVIS Death Cafe meets my need to feel that I'm doing something that's worthwhile. BILL PALMER VOLUME II | 73