Death Café comes to Virden

Event sells out in days

If you did a double take on that headline, it’s understandable. When I first saw the Death Café announcement on Facebook, I had to read it a second time.

Maybe it’s a dearth café, where they’re always running out of things. Or a death cave, a new burial choice.

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But no, it’s literally a coffee shop or other venue where people gather to talk about death.

European roots

The concept began in France in 2010 but was popularized by Death Café founder Jon Underwood of the UK. The Death Café website explains:

“At a Death Café, 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.'”

They had me at cake.

The website also presents a registry and a guide for those who want to host their own death café anywhere in the world.  

At last count, over 6,000 had been held in everything from a cemetery to a yurt. Ten have been held in Manitoba so far but this will be a first for Virden.

Talking death

Christine Cross, who works with seniors and their families, organized Virden’s Death Café along with Cathy Coulter.

The event poster says simply, “Join us for coffee, cake and conversation about death. Space is limited to the first 20 registrants.”

So I registered and asked Cross, “What happens at a death café?”

She said, “We’re giving people a space and place to come and have discussions regarding the topic of death and dying. 

“We believe conversation and education are a safe and practical way to help people, and the death café model is a perfect place to start.”  

The Virden Death Café happens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Gopher Creek Coffee Company. Cross says the spaces filled up quickly but they plan to hold others in future.

I’ll report back to you on what it was like!


© Virden Empire-Advance