Death Café is a social franchise of groups who all meet with the objective of “increasing awareness of death with a view of helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”. At a Death Café event people meet to discuss death as well as drink tea and eat cake. The official Death Café website (www.deathcafe.com) describes the meetings as discussion groups rather than counselling sessions or grief support.
Death Cafés can be found throughout the world, with members of the network spread across North America, Australasia and Europe. According to the Death Café website, wherever cafés are held, they follow the same format in that they are provided: “on a not for profit basis; in an accessible, respectful and confidential space; with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of actions; alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food.” Currently they have taken place in 52 different countries.
Death Café does not employ anyone, rather it is provided on a voluntary basis by Jon Underwood, who founded the first Death Café in his house in London in 2011. Since then the concept has been developed by both Underwood and his mother, Sue Barsky Reid. Cafés have taken place in a variety of venues across the world including cafés, a yurt, the Royal Festival hall and people’s houses. A guide for those wishing to hold their own Death Cafés has also been developed by Reid for use around the world.
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