That’s often the response we got when we announced the first Death Café in Lebanon County on May 21 and in Lancaster County on June 4. We called it that because that’s the name that’s used around the world.
At the Death Café Website, this is what it says: “At a Death Cafe people drink tea (or coffee), eat cake (and scones, cookies, pies) and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
We bounced the idea off our partners’ networks and the executive directors of the Manheim Township Public Library and the Lebanon Community Library. The Library partners enthusiastically supported the idea of collaborating and providing the venues for these first Death Cafés.
At the Death Cafés, people came together – people who’d not met one another before – to engage in conversations about end-of-life in a non-directed and not-judgmental manner. Each small group table had a moderator / facilitator to make “people feel safe to talk about death.” And to keep the conversation moving should there be a lull.
There were no lulls at these Death Cafés. In fact, the time passed so quickly that many were surprised when the two-hours elapsed.
Following the Death Cafés, participants volunteered to participate in confidential electronic surveys to share their impressions and thoughts about their experiences.
When asked “to list three words that best describe your experience of the Death Café,” these were some of the replies:
Inspiring, educational, comfortable
prepared for death
Nonjudgemental, friendly, supportive
Grateful, appreciative, and necessary
Openness Listening Sharing
Enlightening Educational Informative
heartwarming, reaffirming, connected
Meaningful, enriching, community-building
Open, informative, quaint
Inspirational. Bold. Helpful.
informative, informative, & informative
Interesting and useful
Another question on the survey was “If someone told you they were thinking of attending a Death Café, what would you say to them?”
Here’s are some of the participant responses to that question:
do it. It is enriching.
Go for it!
It’s a great and necessary event…good for you!
go with an open mind and inquisitive purpose
Go for it. It’s worth your time
Go with an open mind, be ready to listen, share and embrace the experiences of others
Absolutely and without a doubt, go to the Death Cafe!
I would go with.
Go for the experience. Don’t be surprised if you get personal value.
The name is a bit of a put off.
We did get more than a few emails before and after the events; here are extracts from two we’d like to share.
“I would be interested in attending, will not be back to attend the June 4 meeting but will watch for the next date.”
“I got into a conversation with a random woman at (a store) yesterday, who told me about taking her son to the bank to prepare for when she dies. She told how her son responded, which was the typical telling a mother to keep their money, etc. I told her about my experience at Death Cafe the other week and she was really interested and actually gave me her contact information so I can let her know if there is another one; in case she doesn’t see it advertised.”
We’re planning on follow-on Death Cafés sometime after summer … right now we’re looking at mid-September. Contact us if you’d like to:
- Be on the notification email list to get information about the next Death Café;
- Help out with the planning for the next Death Café;
- Volunteer to be a table moderator or facilitator at the next Death Café;
- Bring a pie, cake, cookies or scones to the next Death Café;
- Suggest something for the next Death Café.
Complete the form below or call or text 717.380.9714.