Death Cafés Present a Comfortable Way to Talk about Death

Many people want to discuss death but feel uncomfortable trying to bring the topic up around friends. A growing trend in gatherings, called Death Cafés, is gaining attention for presenting a comfortable way talk about death with others. Death Cafés bring strangers together in a public setting to increase awareness of death, while sipping coffee and eating comfort foods like cake and cookies.

According to The New York Times, Founder Jon Underwood modeled the Death Café concept based on the work of sociologist Bernard Crettaz, who started running Café Mortel get-togethers in 2004 in Switzerland and France. Underwood read an article in 2010 and decided to start holding similar events as part of a range of projects he was doing about death.

Want to run a Death Café? These are some guidelines from the founder. Death Cafés should be:

  • Run on a not-for-profit basis, though to be sustainable, one can cover expenses through donations and fundraising • Held in an accessible, respectful and confidential space, free of discrimination, where people can express their views safely. Settings can vary widely and can include cafes, churches, private homes, and community rooms.
  • Facilitated with no intention of leading participant towards any particular conclusion, product or course of action • Used to talk about death and dying, and not for bereavement support or grief counseling. People who have experienced a very recent and/or traumatic loss or death are encouraged to seek professional support.
  • A place where people consume refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake! Comfort foods like cookies and cake counteract the fear that people have about discussing death, allowing them to relax and talk.

A free guide is available for download on how to hold a Death Café from the organization’s website,

The conversation at Death Cafés typically include medical concerns, advance directives, physician-assisted suicide, financial concerns, wills, funerals, what happens after we die, and many other aspects of living and dying.

Whether or not you have the opportunity or desire to attend a Death Café to talk about the inevitable, it is important to plan for your future and for your loved ones. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call The Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.