Death cafes

In Death Cafés, conversation is driven by ideas and questions that people never dared express before. Although Death Cafés do not offer grief therapy, private losses are, inevitably, shared: people talk movingly about suicide, accidental deaths, miscarriages, stillbirths, abortions. Parents of disabled children admit they can no longer cope; a son reveals how he practises a funeral rite for his mother — even though she’s still alive.

Yet cafés mortels are also vital places, often raucous with laughter. Speaking about death scrubs away our facades, brings us closer to who we really are. There’s a sense of liberation in such honesty, compounded by the idea that in talking about death, one is somehow breaking a taboo. Crettaz says that death is ‘a scandal, a ghost that lives with us. But the goal is to get creative and make it a non-destructive ghost’. He says: ‘I am never so in tune with the truth as during one of these soirées. And I have the impression that the assembled company, for a moment, and thanks to death, is born into authenticity.’

Clare Davies, “The Death Cafe


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