Groups talk about death, dying at 'Death Cafés'

Growing number of people want to talk about what happens before, during, after

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There are all sorts of meetups for all kinds of things these days, but a growing trend in gatherings is gaining attention for the topic that many consider taboo: death.

It turns out, people want to talk about death and dying and what happens before, during and after. 

"Some of them are in public cafes, some of them are in people's homes," explained Jane Hughes-Gignoux, a Death Café host.

People of all ages and backgrounds are taking part, with meetups popping up in cities across the country and even online where anyone, anywhere, can join the conversation.  Hughes-Gignoux hosts Death Cafés each month.

"Some people come with questions," she said. "Some people come with things they want to share. Some people come with, with anxieties."

Participants describe them as informal gatherings of people who share a common interest.

"I want to just open up my mind a little bit and become a little bit more comfortable talking about death," said Claire Kinnen, a Death Café participant.

"Some of these conversations are not things that I could have every day with any of my friends, and so I just really relish these opportunities to just get it all out there," said Sam Tomasello, another Death Café participant.

Dr. Phyllis Kosminsky is a fellow with the Association for Death Education and Counseling and author of Getting Back to Life When Grief Won't Heal.  Kosminsky believes the popularity of Death Cafés demonstrates a need for this type of conversation.

"It's a comfort to be able to share your concerns, your fears, your feelings about something that's so much a part of all of our lives," she said.

Kosminsky specializes in coping with death, and considers the trend healthy and not morbid.

"Talking about death is helpful and, and potentially life-enriching because it brings our attention to what we value in life," she explained.

But, these meetings are not for everyone.  They're not counseling sessions or support groups.

"Somebody who is in deep grief, who might just recently, very recently, suffered a loss of a love one, probably might find it difficult," said Hughes-Gignoux.

The Death Café host goes on to say that the only rule at her death cafés is that everyone is respectful of one another and is glad the topic is up for discussion.

"It's very, for me, very heartening to see that people are curious and want to explore areas that they've never explored before," said Hughes-Gignoux.

These meetups are not designed for people with depression or mental health issues, or those who might become obsessed with death.  The American Psychological Association maintains people dealing with those things should seek help through specially trained professionals.   

If you're interested in participating in a Death Café, upcoming meetings are posted on

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