Member Login

Premium Content

Death Cafe Series Offers Us Chance to Talk About Universal Fear of Dying

One thing is certain for all of us: death.

So, why is it so hard to talk about?

One Northern Kentucky entrepreneur is trying to change the taboo topic into the conversation piece.

On a Friday evening last September, I joined about two dozen people interested in the new concept. We gathered to discuss death. Not our own impending passing, but the concept of death, in general, and why it haunts us so.

Not even public speaking, snakes, nor crossing bridges compare to our society's fear of dying.

The event is called a Death Cafe. For the event, we gathered at the newly built Grief and Loss Center on St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Edgewood campus. The 3,000-square-foot facility, located directly adjacent to St. Elizabeth's Hospice Care Center, is equipped with a large group room, small conference room, three counseling rooms; all surrounding one large common area.

It was the perfect venue to grab a cup of tea, munch on a slice of death cake, and talk about transitioning to the other side.  

A Death Cafe isn't what you think— it's more like an event.

Death Cafes have been popping up around pockets of the nation for some time now and are beginning to grow in popularity. At one of these events, folks have the chance to dole out their thoughts about crossing over. With its confidential element, attendees are able to express their opinions openly, without judgement.  

Now keep in mind, for the most part, on the night I attended my first Death Cafe, the attendees were all strangers. The evening's conversation began with an introduction by the event's host Cole Imperi, an Integrative Thanatologist, and city-appointed member of the board of overseers at Linden Grove Cemetery.

“I work with businesses like funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories, hospice centers, palliative care facilities, death doulas/death midwives, bereavement and grief counselors, clergy, yoga teachers, ayurvedic practitioners, physicians—if it has to do with end of life, that's my area of focus.” said Imperi.

On this particular evening, about 20 people showed up to take part of the conversation.

It was mostly aging Baby Boomers, but not entirely. As I sat and spoke with a few of the attendees, we talked about the issue of death and dove into why we are so afraid of dying. I found out that most of us have some of the same questions and concerns. The fact that what happens after you die is completely unknown was the one concern we all had in common.

When someone dies, the mask of uncertainty comes off and people discover things about themselves. Things that they never knew and other times, it's something you've known all along.

One of the participants spoke of the loss of her father and conveyed how very soon after, she visited a psychic who gave her some incredible insight.

“The more I was exposed to the other side, or what I perceived as those I loved who were on the other side, I began to feel closer to them and less afraid of death.”

She went on to say that she was drawn to attend tonight's event because she felt the need to continue to pull back the veil covering the topic of death.

This opened up a conversation about our actual fear of the unknown.

And as the night’s event developed — talking about all aspects of death became easier and less complex.

Only an hour previously we had been virtual strangers, but as we shared our experiences with death, we became fast friends, attracted to one another through death.

To get more information and RSVP for upcoming cafes, email [email protected].

Written by K.A. Simpson, RCN contributor