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.
need to feel
that I'm doing
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