Evelyn Lewin writing in the Sydney Morning Herald says Death Cafes are on the rise in Australia.
It’s 7pm on a chilly Tuesday evening and I’m sitting in a circle with a bunch of strangers, cradling a cup of lemon myrtle tea.
The conversation has moved between discussions on ashes (both what to do with them, and how unexpectedly heavy they are to carry) to dying with dignity, and we’re now musing about whether there’ll be an app that automatically updates your will in the future.
Personal stories have been shared, too. Women have worn pained expressions as they spoke of their deceased husbands; one man spoke about the trauma of having to tell his son his stepdad had taken his own life, and another opened up about the grief of losing both parents.
These are places where people – often strangers – come together to simply enjoy some refreshments while talking about death. They’re offered on a non-profit basis and while the topics centre on death, they’re a group discussion, not a grief or counselling session, and there is no clear-cut agenda. They’ve been around for almost seven years, when Jon Underwood first ran one in the UK in 2011. Since then, it’s become a global movement. According to DeathCafe.com, there are 283 such places listed in Australia, and 6521 around the world.