At Death Cafes people come together in a relaxed and safe setting to discuss death as a transition and a part of life. The objective of Death Cafe is "To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives". The idea of running Death Cafes came from the work of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz. Jon Underwood read of this in a newspaper article in November 2010 and immediately decided to offer Death Cafes himself. Death Cafe is part of a set of projects about death called Impermanence.
The first Death Cafe took place in Underwood's basement in September 2011 and was facilitated by Sue Barsky Reid. Since then the Death Cafes have been held in the Royal Festival Hall, a yurt, cool cafes and other people's houses. Over 200 people have so far attended a Death Cafe.
The cafes are also being held in American cities including New York City and Sonoma. One will be held in Austin in the summer as well.
Death Cafes are held free of charge in an accessible, respectful and confidential space, free of discrimination, where people can express their views safely. The Death Cafes are set up so that anyone is welcome and can freely come to discuss loss, death, grieving and life transition.
Underwood actively encourages people to set up their own Death Cafes, or discussions about death. In February 2012, he produced a guide to running your own Death Cafe which is available here.
The first Death Cafe in the U.S. was held by Lizzy Miles in Columbus, Ohio.
For more information on how to hold your own Death Cafe, please refer to the resources listed in this article.