Back in August the English newspaper, ‘The Independent’, ran an article on the phenomenon of Death Cafes (to which the link appears below). I got to Skype with the founder of the Death Cafes here in the UK, Jon Underwood, last week.
As you’ll read in the article, “What is believed to be the first official British death cafe took place in September last year, organised by former council worker Jon Underwood. Since then, around 150 people have attended death cafes in London and the one I [the journalist] visited was the 17th such happening.
“We don’t want to shove death down people’s throats,” Underwood says. “We just want to create an environment where talking about death is natural and comfortable.” He got the idea from the Swiss model (cafe mortel) invented by sociologist Bernard Crettaz, the popularity of which gained momentum in the Noughties and has since spread to France.
Underwood is keen to start a death cafe movement in English-speaking countries and his website www.deathcafe.com includes instructions for setting up your own. He has already inspired the first death cafe in America and groups have sprung up in Northern England too. Jon is an extremely affable and open person. It was a delight to connect and for us to share our work, which is so similar at heart. A Buddhist meditator, he was intrigued by the notion of our training being for those who want a conscious death, and undertook to distribute some flyers where appropriate.