Art of Dying Volume II - Page 6

In Memoriam

JON UNDERWOOD
DEAN BRANNAGAN
Jon Underwood was featured in Volume I of Art of Dying . You can read his feature article , " Death Activism " at www . artofdying . net .
Jon Underwood , the founder of Death Cafe , died suddenly on Tuesday 27th June from undiagnosed acute promyelocytic leukaemia . He was a quietly spoken , deeply compassionate radical , who bettered the lives of millions of people all over the world through his work creating Death Cafes . He was just 44 .
Jon was always the first to point out the originator of the idea was Bernard Crettaz , a Swiss sociologist , but it was Jon ' s low key evangelism that gave the idea momentum here in the UK , and thanks to his confidence in the social benefits , and his generosity in sharing it ( he held the reins so lightly as to be almost invisible ) Death Cafes have become a global phenomenon .
Jon was married to Donna Molloy , whom he met at Corpus Christi College in Oxford , and they have two children . Jon was both intellectual and deeply spiritual - his degree was in Politics , Philosophy and Economics . Jon immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhism , giving up well-paid tech work to manage the Jamyang Centre in South London , working alongside his beloved spiritual teacher , Geshe Tashi . In 2002 he took up a role in Tower Hamlets Council leading pioneering projects to support ex offenders and tackle issues of the disadvantaged . He left Tower Hamlets in 2010 to develop his own projects around death awareness , compassionate funerals , and natural death facilities . He maintained strong links with Jamyang and always wanted the centre to hold funerals , and with irony that Jon would relish , his was first .
I have been privileged to host several Death Cafes , and while on paper the idea doesn ' t seem so groundbreaking - strangers meet , sit and drink tea , eat cake and discuss death for two hours- in reality they can become crucibles of extraordinary intimacy .
Jon understood that people have a thirst for the authentic , a longing to connect on a deeper level , and sharing our experiences of death , our fears and hopes , while enjoying one of the simplest of pleasures of our short lives , is such a way . Jon was really creating a space for moments of shared grace ; intimacy through vulnerability , tempered and softened by the breaking of bread together . Though his influence on the Natural Death movement was huge , I ' m sure he would have insisted that he was the rule , not the exception .
Working with death has taught me that the world is full of Jon Underwoods . Compassion , courage and integrity are the bedrock of most people ' s personality ; only bad luck and circumstance bend us out of shape . Jon knew this too , and embodied it in everything he did .
Jon leaves behind his wife Donna , his two children Frank ( 10 ) and Gina ( 6 ), his sister Jools , his brother Matt , his mother Sue , his stepfather Alistair and his father Mike . And millions of grateful people whom he never met . Rupert Callender , Radical Undertaker .
6 | ART OF DYING
In Memoriam JON UNDERWOOD Jon Underwood, the founder of Death Cafe, died suddenly on Tuesday 27th June from undiagnosed acute promyelocytic leukaemia. He was a quietly spoken, deeply compassionate radical, who bettered the lives of millions of people all over the world through his work creating Death Cafes. He was just 44. Jon was always the first to point out the originator of the idea was Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist, but it was Jon's low key evangelism that gave the idea momentum here in the UK, and thanks to his confidence in the social benefits, and his generosity in sharing it (he held the reins so lightly as to be almost invisible) Death Cafes have become a global phenomenon. Jon was married to Donna Molloy, whom he met at Corpus Christi College in Oxford, and they have two children. Jon was both intellectual and deeply spiritual - his degree was in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Jon immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhism, giving up well-paid tech work to manage the Jamyang Centre in South London, working alongside his beloved spiritual teacher, Geshe Tashi. In 2002 he took up a role in Tower Hamlets Counc VFrVW&r&V7G2F7W'BWffVFW'2BF6R77VW2bFPDT%$tदVFW'vBv2fVGW&VBfVRb'BbGrR6&V@2fVGW&R'F6R$FVF7Ff6 Bwwr'FfGrWBF6GfFvVBRVgBFvW"WG2#FFWfV2v&V7G0&VBFVFv&VW72676FRgVW&2BGW&FVFf6ƗFW2आRFVB7G&rƖ2vFזrBv2vFVBFR6VG&RFBgVW&2BvF&FBvVB&VƗ62v2f'7BऒfR&VV&fVvVBF7B6WfW&FVF6fW2BvRW FRFVFW6wB6VV6w&VF'&Vr7G&vW'2VWB6BBG&氧FVVB6RBF67W72FVFf"GvW'2&VƗGFW6&V6P7'V6&W2bWG&&F'F7दVFW'7FBFBVRfRF'7Bf"FRWFVF2vrF6V7BFVWW"WfVB6&rW"WW&V6W2bFVFW"fV'0BW2vRVrRbFR6W7BbV7W&W2bW"6'BƗfW227V6vv2&Vǒ7&VFr76Rf"VG2b6&VBw&6SF7F&VvgVW&&ƗGFVW&VBB6gFVVB'FR'&Vr`'&VBFvWFW"FVv2fVV6RFRGW&FVFfVVBv0VvRv7W&RRvVBfR67FVBFBRv2FR'VRBFRW6WFv&rvFFVF2FVvBRFBFRv&B2gVbVFW'vG26766W&vRBFVw&G&RFR&VG&6b7@VRw2W'6ƗGǒ&BV6B6&7V7F6R&VBW2WBb6RदWrF2FBV&FVBBWfW'FrRFBदVfW2&VB2vfRF2Gv6G&Vg&Bvb267FW"22'&FW"GB2FW"7VR27FWfFW"Ɨ7F"B0fFW"֖RB֖Ɩ2bw&FVgVVRvRWfW"WB *'WW'B6VFW"&F6VFW'FW"b%BbEp