"Death Cafe" discussion series at Albany Rural Cemetery

Albany Rural Cemetery wide shotDeath happens to all of us -- and the people around us -- even if we don't necessarily like to talk about it. And if it is something you do want to talk about with others... where to start?

That's the prompt for a local series of get togethers called the Death Cafe. It is, as the event page succinctly describes: "Strangers get together, eat baked goods and drink hot beverages while having a conversation about the taboo we all experience."

The next local meeting is Saturday, March 24 from 1-3 pm at the Albany Rural Cemetery chapel. It's free.

The idea grew out of a gathering in England and has since spread to many different countries. The discussions have a series of guidelines, and are intended "to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives."

Here's a NYT article about the idea from a few years back. The founder of the series died last year at age 44 of cancer, and his obit includes more details about the discussions.


This is a great thing. We are faced with death every day yet the western mindset looks at it as something to avoid. Until it has to be dealt with. And then it is tragic and sad. Reading a good book on the topic - great read if you're interested:

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

"Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals."

I have chills (in a good way) stumbling upon this link, including ace's comment because I am currently reading From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, and I literally just took a break from reading it 10 minutes ago to go on the internet and decided to check AOA. In short, to to find all this is very reaffirming that this is important stuff that should be talked about more, not silenced. Also, I agree with everything "ace" said about the book and I think the Death Cafe is a wonderful idea and will definitely be checking it out!

Thank you for the thoughtful coverage, AOA! And to the generous comments above. Hoping to see many of you at the event.

Also, for fellow Doughty fans, her Death Salon will be happening a days' worth drive away this fall. https://deathsalon.org/future-events/death-salon-boston-2018/

I went to the first of these gatherings in the area - the cemetery meeting will be the third - and I found it worthwhile.

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