Death Cafe: Stupid Or Awful?

death cafe website

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.

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11 Responses to Death Cafe: Stupid Or Awful?

  1. Sam says:

    Then don’t go.

  2. betty says:

    You’re right. Only someone who’s never suffered in life would be attracted to it.

  3. Tom Isenberg says:

    Joanne, As painful as it might be or become, perhaps you should infiltrate. What if it’s like a book club and all they do is read books like “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” and “The Naked and The Dead.” And maybe watch films like “Dead Ringers,” “The Dead” ((by John Huston)), “My Weekend at Bernies,” “Death Becomes Her,” “The Grateful Dead Movie,” “Rabbit Test,” “Death on The Nile,” and “Deathtrap,” not to mention “Murder, My Lovely,” “Double Indemnity,” “Vertigo,” “The Dead Boys.” And listen to music by The Grateful Dead, Jack White’s band The Dead Weather and The Damned. Please let us know.

  4. ChrissyB says:

    I can see how you might think that, but actually you’ve got quite the wrong end of the stick here.

    When my mum died a few months ago I realised that although I knew a lot about the stages and process of birth I knew nothing about the process of dying. What are the stages of dying, if their are any? How do I figure out a way to die with grace at the end of my life? Is their a ‘letting go’ in dying as there is in going to sleep (there seemed to be for my mum who was terminally ill and said she was ready, but couldn’t quite ‘let go’)?

    Unlike the Victorians who faced into death every day, we don’t know much about it because as a society we avoid talking about it. Who can you talk about your questions about death with? Generally not many people, if anyone. The purpose of the death cafes is not to glamorise, rather allow a space for discussion. I don’t glamorise food irradiation, but I discuss it with others in order to understand different perspectives, to learn what I can about the issue, and to formulate my own ideas. That is the purpose of the death cafes. Hope you don’t mind me clarifying. BTW I’m not affiliated with death cafes, just found them a useful resource.

  5. Dj says:

    Such utter bullshit…

  6. Bevitron says:

    I wonder if you would have to wade waist-deep through the weird & deeply disturbing to get to a thoughtful and sincere discussion.

    Too risky. Not for me.

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    sam – Well….actually, I may go.

    betty – Right??

    Tom Isenberg – I once worked in a used-book store and someone kept putting ‘Death in Venice’ next to the stuff by Kubler-Ross.

    ChrissyB – I am able to tolerate dissent, unlike the Death Cafe facebook page, which blocked me when I asked some questions.

    Dj – Thank you.

    Bevitron – If I had to join a ‘social franchise’ cafe in order to have a thoughtful discussion, I’d be much crazier than I am, I know that much!

  8. Suspended says:

    I’d have to say Stupid and Awful. There’s no choosing between the two.

  9. Suspended says:

    “If I had to join a ‘social franchise’ cafe in order to have a thoughtful discussion, I’d be much crazier than I am, I know that much!”

    So very true!! Haha!

  10. Cranky Jane says:

    “to increase awareness of death” It’s not as though these people came from the other side, if there is even an other side, which I doubt. Like this living people have a clue. Death Cafe’s are extremely popular in the area where I reside, and I can see why. They attract the Sams of this world, I guess; those people who always respond to criticism of something they are “into” with, “Then don’t go.” Or, “Don’t read it.”

    Could we take all the people who need Death Cafes, and who “journal,” and otherwise use nouns as verbs, (that they were “gifted” by popular idiot culture), and send them to Pluto?

  11. Cranky Jane says:

    PS Anyone notice that things like Death Cafés are completely whitebread?

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