Death Cafe is sort of a coffee klatch for would-be coroners. At present, it’s more of a movement than a physical space, with pop-up Death Cafe’s in 31 countries.
Here’s how Death Cafe defines itself:
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.
Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’
How nice! Because, who doesn’t like death? You can never have enough death, evidently. But here’s what Death Cafe isn’t:
It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.
It’s not a spelling class either, but that’s okay. What isn’t okay for me is the concept of death as something cool because, you know, it’s so dark and transgressive. It’s like one big memento mori festival, full of arty skull motifs and and Victorian post-mortem photos.
Death Cafe is a ‘social franchise’. This means that people who sign up to our guide and principles can use the name Death Cafe, post events to this website and talk to the press as an affiliate of Death Cafe.
Yay, we can all host a Death Cafe if we follow the guidelines. I like this one: The main qualities of a host are enthusiasm for talking about death and dying and high ethical standards. That rules me out, since I have ethics but no enthusiasm.
I’m aware that a fetishistic interest in morbid things has long been a feature of hipsterism. Taxidermy, Day of the Dead artifacts, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, zombies, all those tumblr pictures of dead girls in bathtubs. I get that it seems cool to embrace the taboo.
But this Death Cafe thing, no. A big No.
What a bunch of fatuous fuckers.
Cat Cafes, fine. *Baby Cafes™, even better (*as soon as I get the idea off the ground. Contact me if you want to fund my business plan!)
Death is a drag and there’s already so much of it. It isn’t really cute. Let’s not trivialize it.