I visited my alma mater recently and found the most wonderful little poster advertising a Death Café. While I had never heard of such a thing before, I know well the general concept.
The Death Cafe is a worldwide movement dedicated to bringing discussion of death into a relaxed environment. The Death Cafe is a group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives, or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session. The event seeks to provide a forum for death understanding and death positivity in a less daunting, less facing-your-own-mortality way.
It’s a forum where attendees can ask questions that they may have not only regarding their own death, but the deaths of their parents and perhaps spouses.
It’s no secret that I am fascinated with death. Much of my own writing deals with the subject and how it affects people. In my perpetual search for new information and sources to color and add to my understanding of Death, I happened upon a licensed mortician and funeral director, named Caitlin Doughty, whose mission is to educate everyone about death and funeral practices, but also to answer any questions people have about the process of death and burial.
Caitlin has enlightened me on many areas of the American death culture that I, as I am sure everyone else has, just accepted as part of what happens.
As a delivery driver, I spend a lot of time in my car; and I’ve heard several ads recently encouraging people to sign up for life insurance policies. It occurred to me that the discussion for insurance is a great way to incite the mortality conversation, but there needs to be more going into it than just making sure there is enough money to cover expenses. I am not discrediting the need or importance of life insurance. I just want to present more opportunities for understanding.
The sudden death of a loved one is devastating to the heart and finances. But even with savings and insurance, a family may still be unable to pay the $30,000 funeral costs of a traditional burial. Cremation is a bit cheaper, but not by much; only like $5-10,000.
It is essential that we begin to think about these different topics and decisions regarding death as they may be the solution to the problems that come up around them.
I’m hoping to make a future posting regarding opening the Death Discussion and give further details about modern death practices, such as green burials and death laws that funeral homes may not mention. Perhaps our very own Death Café may pop up here in Richmond…
Stuart Nicholson, an actor and fiction writer in Richmond, as well as a member of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing For Peace.