Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Feedback from Death Café Atlanta

By Mark LaRocca-Pitts

[A fantastic article about
 this event, with some great pictures, has also been published by USA Today]

Death Café Atlanta held its first death café on Saturday, March 30th with hosts Mark LaRocca-Pitts, Bob Duvall, and Kate Hauk. By all measures, it was a huge success. We had 39 people who preregistered and then ended up with 46 people overall. The ages ranged from 35 – 84 with a good mix of people. We met in “the upper room” of the Bell Tower at the Oakland Cemetery whose beautifully arched windows overlooked the historic cemetery with Atlanta’s skyline filling out the horizon. Thanks to Phil and Miles, volunteers at Oakland, who set up everything and then cleaned up afterwards. Our snacks were catered by the Brown Bag Bistro and included finger sandwiches, various pastries, mixed seasonal fruit, and hot and cold drinks. We pretty much consumed the entire lot. Words used to describe this first Death Café included, “inquisitive, honest, inviting, relaxed, supportive, open, informative, interactive, uplifting, introspective, great, alive, diverse, interesting, comfortable, liberating, unbelievable, affirming, comforting, educational, fun, respectful, and enjoyable.”

Most of the time was spent in small groups around tables with four to six people per table. Conversation was energetic and topics, as reported at the end when we came back as a large group, included funeral experiences, plans for one’s own funeral, fear of dying, death of pets, incarnation, advanced directives, death of loved ones, and living life fully in the knowledge of death—to name a few. In our closing, everyone seemed to enjoy singing “Happy Trails.” The most common comment on leaving was, “I plan on coming to the next one!” We also received some very valuable feedback from the evaluation form that will help make future Death Cafés even better.

We want to thank Crossroads Hospice Charitable Foundation for providing the grant to Death Café Atlanta that made this and future Death Cafés possible.

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