The recent article in the Huddersfield Examiner about the Death Cafe seems to have caused a bit of a stir.
Due to the feedback I've received I feel like I need to clarify a few things:
1. Several people have said how they felt shocked to read that only females in their 30's will be attending the discussion group. This is an error on behalf of the reporter. (I don't think journalists are very good at the game of 'Chinese whispers', as we call it in the UK.) The reporter rang me up and asked me various questions about the nature of the discussion group, its purpose and what kind of people I expect to see there. I told him that two of my friends, who are both in their 30's and female, are going. I said that I expect there to be more women than men, as is usually the case at such events. I went on to say that it's a fact that men find it more difficult to talk about their feelings than women do. They find it harder to open up. Men see it as a sign of weakness, whereas women gain strength from their ability to be open and share.
What I didn't say was that there are only women attending the event. It just so happens that a few men who have registered for the first discussion group.
A friend of mine saw the article and said, 'I didn't know you was setting up a cafe' . . . which brings me onto my next point:
2. A Death Cafe is not a cafe.
I'm not sure who came up with the name "Death Cafe" but it's misleading. It sounds macabre and grim and quite gothic. It's not their fault, it's the thousands of years of badmouthing death that is to blame. The word death brings with it so many negative connotations, so it's no surprise that "Death Cafe" sounds like a mass suicide pact just after a skinny latte and a blueberry muffin . . . Great!
I prefer to call it Talk About Dying - abbreviated to TAD. This way, the venue (which, surprisingly, is usually a cafe) won't be projected as being frightening and eerie.
The article got shared nearly 300 times, which goes to show how many people are interested in shining some light on this taboo topic.
A few jokes popped up which made me laugh. Somebody said that they had been to a Death Cafe the other week but it was dead.
This one made me laugh the most, though: I went to one last week but there was coffin all the way through it.
So, let me conclude:
- Everybody is welcome at a Death Cafe discussion group. You can be male, female, both or neither (?) Everybody dies, Everybody's welcome (that should be the slogan).
- A Death Cafe is not a cafe. It's a discussion group to discuss all things related to death and dying. Renaming it to TAD (Talk about Dying/Death) might be a very wise move. It certainly helps clarify things.
- Joking about death and dying can be funny at times, but it can also be a great way to mask our fear.