JON UNDERWOOD & BILL PALMER
We're here to support
each other, not to debate
the relative merits of one
particular view of death
or anything else.
There are people who come once and we never see
them again. Some are what I would call regulars: they
come to almost every one. Others pop in and pop
out. They come for a staggering variety of reasons.
I think a Death Cafe’s appeal is that, regardless of
our differences, we're all going to die. That seems to
effortlessly bind people together. focused on death and dying now, and that's a cultural
transformation. Another cause is the very visible
instability of the financial system and traditional
business, legal, and religious institutions. Part of their
function is to minimize and manage death anxiety,
and now they’re tarnished and diminished, forcing
people to look directly at death again.
One woman has attended at least 30 Death Cafes,
and she says exactly the same things in 2017 that
she said in 2013. I don't understand why she keeps
coming back, but there's something about it that
attracts her. Of course, she's more than welcome.
Every time she says, "My own death is not real to
me," there's always someone who says, "Yeah, I feel
exactly the same way," so she gets the support that
she asks for. BILL PALMER: At every Death Café I set some
ground rules right at the top. There's no forced topic
of conversation—no icebreakers, no guests speakers,
none of that. Any topic of conversation regarding
death or people's feelings about death is welcome.
If you don't want to talk, you don't have to.
JON UNDERWOOD: There have been massive
changes around death awareness since Death Café
started. I think that Death Cafe is indicative of this
shift. People like Caitlin Doughty from the Order of
the Good Death have inspired thousands of people to
become interested in death. Aging Boomers are more
74 | ART OF DYING
You can just listen. That's fine. No one, no facilitator
will ever call on you and say, "Well, what do you
think?" A Death Café is a learning and support
community, so if you're tempted to argue or debate,
that's not welcome. If you hear something you
don't like or don't understand, you are encouraged
to be curious and to ask, but we're here to support
each other, not to debate the relative merits of one
particular view of death or anything else.