Curious about a good death? What about accounts of near-death experiences? Green burials?
Imagine going to a meet-up to talk solely about death and end of life questions.
That’s the invitation put out by Death Café, a quiet movement focused on setting up invitational evenings to do just that.
Yet, who would have thought it would be so … enlivening?
The first death cafe has just happened in North Vancouver, and attended by 28 courageous conversationalists. It was a simple, elegant event – reminiscent of the Parisian salons, or what I imagine they might be. A free and open conversation among good listeners in a warm café. There was excellent coffee, horchata, tisanes and a rich and delicious cake. Enjoying the feast of life while talking about death.
A striking, lush festival table covered in shimmering layers of black bombazine, twisted willow branches, dark rose petals, and fragrant lilacs inspired thoughts of another beautiful realm: death.
Poetry abounded. Mary Oliver’s enticing poem When Death Comes. Rainier Maria Rilke’s You, Darkness.
Emily Dickinson: death is a ‘wild night and a new road’. Consider that death is not the end of the road, but a new one. Imagine just setting out on a new, long, winding country road, a peaceful image.:
Conversation was rich and spirited, and full of listening, laughter and aha moments.
It took a different path at each table: what makes a good death; how dying is portrayed in film, especially in the recent Amour; avoiding talking about death; not knowing how to grieve; the pressure to “just move on”.
Some of the phrases to describe death: an amazing teacher, life-giving , expansive, the old wise one.
“It was good to speak at such an authentic level”, said Jeff. Other participants wrote similar responses: hopeful, magical and illuminating. Alive with new thoughts.
Final phrases to describe the evening: reaffirming life, compelling, shazam.
Come to our next café in the fall, start one of your own, or check out www.deathcafe.com.
After all, death is the great common destination – at Death Café, we just do a little trip planning.