Saturday, 5 January 2013

Canada's first Death Cafe

My wife Elizabeth and I were privileged to host Canada’s 1st Death Cafe
in the Church of Truth, Community of Conscious Living, in beautiful Victoria BC,
December 5, 2012 from 7- 8:45 PM.  We had 51 people in attendance. Our thanks to everyone at the International Death Cafe hub in London, England for helping make it so easy to produce!

As soon as I learned of the Death Cafe I knew I had to put one on.  My life’s mission has been to bring greater consciousness to death and certainly the Death Cafe accomplishes that.

The evening was a big success!  Participants fed-back it was “fun, expansive, comfortable, safe and reassuring.”

We were told (via the questionnaire) a rewarding time was had by all.  Here are some quotes: “the concept was awesome; “the format is worth your time and a safe place to be;  “you will have a life changing experience; “a great adventure, a great experience; “it’s interesting to know other people have the same fears, concerns and insights.” 

Allow me to share a bit of what we did inside the Cafe:

We had male and female greeters in the foyer - see photo of Hendrick DePagter welcoming folks with warmth and appreciation for their courage to attend and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with other community members about death.                                                                                                                                                                                  

As you see in the picture below it is a beautiful lobby.  We had our Death Cafe sign in book surrounded by plants, seasonal flowers, evergreens and a pink quartz.

      Foyer - Church of Truth
Hendrick graciously welcoming guests
Our cafe tables were tastefully set with tablecloths, evergreen boughs, and tea candles.  Upon them sat our Death Cafe menu along with pencils, paper and envelopes.

I began with a welcome - and as we respectively do here in British Columbia  thanked the Coast Salish, the 1st Nations People upon whose land the church sits.  I offered a prayer and then the gifted Norm Smookler played his native flute.

After Death Cafe instructions were read, confidentiality agreed to, we 
set off on a memorable and uplifting 1 hour and 45 minutes.

There was live, relaxing piano music being played by Michael van der Kamp
as spirited and or quiet conversations flowed around the tables of the 51 participants.

All throughout the evening people wrote out their difficult feelings or uncomfortable memories which later were burned in a large clay vessel outdoors.

The evening was highly structured... and participants were most cooperative in following the suggested Cafe Entrees and its 2nd Course.  The first half of the night was spent talking about death and the second, about life!

A nourishing, relaxing setting for conversations to flow 
If you look carefully at the photo above you will see (under the wall hanging)
two tables to the right and left.  They were filled with pot luck finger foods and delicious desserts my wife Elizabeth and others baked.  Those who did not bring food made donations to the church and to local and international charities at the end of the event.

Close to finishing, Jennifer Sagar, a talented singer-songwriter and guitarist
concluded the evening with a rousing sing-along rendition of Will the Circle be Unbroken.  Then I wrapped it up. 

Elizabeth and I loved hosting the Death Cafe.  We see it as a needed
medium whose time has come!  It’s truly joyous “cutting edge” work / play and it complements my background and developing work as an End-of-Life Coach -

Canada’s first Death Cafe would not have had such a robust start
if it wasn’t for the Church of Truth, Community of Conscious Living to which I belong.  Its’ Spiritual Directions Committee created four Sunday services in November focussing on death because the community wanted that, and thus the Death Cafe was a natural fit!  Thank you everyone at the Church of Truth!

We ‘re grateful to Bernard Crettaz, the Swiss sociologist who launched “Cafe Mortels” in 2010 and most appreciative to Jon Underwood along with his colleagues are who anchoring the Death Cafe International movement from London, England.

Don & Elizabeth Morris

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