Monday, 8 April 2013

Notebook from Death Cafe Sonama March 23rd with Linda Siniard

Spring is here and with it, came a new crop of attendees!  Besides Dave and me, only 3 of the 25 had been to a previous Death Cafe Sonoma.  Thank you to our amazing volunteers this week - Jodi, Dave, Pam, and Dusty!

Today's notes may be especially helpful for others considering starting up Death Cafes in their own towns.  When I started this local event last December, I figured somewhere between 5 and 10 people would be interested each time.  As it turns out, word-of-mouth really does work.  Some of our attendees yesterday had been hearing about the Cafes from friends and co-workers since our first Cafe and had open spots on their calendars this week.  Our schedule this month fell on the same day as two other nearby events, a Final Passages workshop on home funerals, and the other, a weekend grief ritual workshop by Francis Weller.  These are the things that we can expect to happen each month, but it's always interesting to note how word is spreading and how unpredictability will play a part.  Some Death Cafes have done away with asking for RSVPs, while others (including ours) continue.  In terms of planning, we're sticking with them, although the headcount each time has gone above what we'd planned, so we always have additional snacks, cake, and beverages on hand.  We give away leftover snacks and cake to anyone interested, and enjoy the rest at home.  Donations are covering a portion of the food costs, and we are fortunate to have a location that is free to local community organizations that don't charge an entrance fee.  All in all, this is an easy setup and one that can be duplicated in your own town.
So far, we've heard of three other Bay Area (Northern California) groups that are expecting to start Death Cafes in the near future - Napa, Marin County (Larkspur), and Santa Cruz.  All three organizers have attended Death Cafe Sonoma and asked how to begin.  If these locations are nearer your home, please keep an eye on the parent website - to see when they launch.  The guidelines and principles for starting your own are also posted at this site, facilitated by the parent organizer, Jon Underwood.
Also good to note, for those who are considering joining us, but not sure if ours is their kind of gathering, here are a few examples of yesterday's attendees:
Conversations were varied, as you can imagine.  We heard about recent placements in elder care, hospice work, complicated and disenfranchised grief, sudden and/or tragic deaths, difficulties in talking with family members about end-of-life planning, funerals and green burials, talking with the dead, unresolved goodbyes, the after-life, spiritual orientations to consciousness, laughter during grief, energy work, shamanic work, multi-generational homes, care circles, dying at home, and more.  Pam shared a TEDtalk with me before we began, and I forgot to share it with the group.  Look it up here - "My Mushroom Burial Suit".  Wow.
I had considered skipping the April Cafe due to work, school, and vacation plans, but Pam Campbell has graciously offered to facilitate on Saturday, April 27.  Same time and place.  I'll post the details in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. global warming terminal illness and suicide shorten the lives of us all


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