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Feb 05

The Online Death Cafe

So for the next few days I’d like to talk about death in anticipation of Ash Wednesday, because we all are going to die and the ashes on our foreheads are there to remind us of that not-so-simple truth.

I’ve decided on five topics that we can talk about for the remainder of this week and Sunday I’ll have a reflection on the Sunday Gospel. The four topics will be:

1) What would be the worst way to die?
2) What would be the best way to die?
3) Can you discuss a death of a loved one that really effected you?
4) What end of life issues are you most concerned about for yourself?
5) What do you want done at your funeral/burial?

This topic came to me because the Huffington Post talked about Death Cafes today. Here’s a snip:

This is the Death Cafe, an anything-goes, frank conversation on death that’s been hosted at dozens of coffee shops and community centers in American cities from Arizona to Maine since beginning in the Columbus area in July. Death Cafes are modeled on similar gatherings in European cities that have been taking place for several years.

“The goal is to raise death awareness with the view of helping people make the most of their lives. I’m really passionate about death,” said Lizzy Miles, a hospice volunteer and social worker who organizes the Columbus-area cafes, which take place about once a month and draw a range of attendees, from new college graduates to recent retirees.

Maria Johnson, left, a social worker, and Lizzy Miles, right, recently co-facilitated one of the monthly death cafes in Columbus, Ohio.
While the discussion at a Death Cafe is always changing, the format stays generally the same. The organizer, who is usually Miles for the Columbus events, uses donations to purchase tea and cake, and leads an icebreaker by sharing what led him or her to explore death.

Sounds morbid? It’s not. It’s fascinating and also freeing. We’re all going to die, so there’s no use in avoiding the topic. It comforts me to know that I’ve talked about this even though it makes me uncomfortable.

How about you? Are you comfortable talking about death? Why or Why Not?

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