Real Death Cafe to launch in London
Jon Underwood is the founder of Death Cafe, a fast-growing movement which sees people gathering to eat, drink and discuss death. Influenced by the work of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz, the goal of Death Cafe is to create a safe environment where people feel comfortable talking about the one common fate awaiting us all. What started in Jon’s basement has swiftly grown into an international phenomenon, with numerous events worldwide. Now Jon is taking the groundbreaking step of launching the world's first permanent Death Cafe - and, he tells us in an exclusive blog, you could be a part of it.
Death Cafe has been remarkably successful in getting people to talk about death. If you’re not familiar with what we do, at Death Cafes people, often strangers, meet to talk about death over tea and cake. We have a group-directed format and there are never objectives to be fulfilled or specific conclusions to be reached. The essence of Death Cafe is just to let people talk.
There aren’t many settings in which words about death can be spoken
Death Cafe’s permissive format has worked extremely well. When people talk about death, they regularly seem to embody their true selves. The words people say often seem to have been long considered, probably because there aren’t many settings in which words about death can be spoken. Talking about death tends to soften and open people by recognising our shared humanity. A Death Cafe tends to be a very special experience.
This perhaps partly explains their popularity. The first Death Cafe took place in the basement of my house and was facilitated by my mum, Sue Barsky Reid. Since then, Death Cafe has spread far and wide. As of now there have been more than 2,400 Death Cafes in 32 countries.
Death Cafe and other initiatives like Dying Matters have helped to demonstrate that talking about death is not only sensible but can actually be enjoyable and life-enhancing. In view of this, we have been emboldened to embark on an extremely ambitious project – that of opening a real Death Cafe in London.
Death Cafe London will be a coffee shop and events venue in Central London, established specifically to encourage people to talk about death. It will be open to the public and host a range of events around death. These will include Death Cafes but also training sessions, lectures, art, poetry, music, films, support groups and meetings.
We're clear that talking about death is useful to society
Death Cafe London will be a not-for-profit community of benefit to society. It will be funded by the sale of community shares and will be owned and run by shareholders. Both individuals and organisations can buy shares, which are priced at £50 each. Our minimum funding target is £250,000, the cost of 5,000 shares.
We’re clear that talking about death is useful to society. We’re looking to capitalise on the public’s current openness to this subject by establishing this venture, which we believe to be both viable and desirable. If you believe that we can benefit from being more open about death and dying, please support this project by buying shares and letting others know about this groundbreaking project.
Shares are available from Monday 19 October to Saturday 19 December 2015. These can be purchased online, along with full details of the project, at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/deathcafelondon.