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November 20, 2018 : Ohio University Holds First Death Cafe


Ohio University Zanesville hosted the first Death Café in Muskingum County on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Dr. Amy White opened the Café with a presentation on how death is treated across international cultures. After the presentation, she led the group of attendees in an open discussion on the topic of death.

A Death Cafe is a scheduled get-together for the purpose of talking about death over food and drink, usually tea and cake. The goal of these events is to educate and help others become more familiar with the end of life. The idea originates with the Swiss sociologist and anthropologist Bernard Crettaz, who organized the first café mortel in 2004. They have since been held in several countries, beginning with France and the United Kingdom.

The official objective of a death café is to help people make the most of their finite lives. Individuals can discuss their understanding, thoughts, dreams, fears and all other areas of death and dying at these events. Tea and cake are one of the most important features to the event they assist with creating a nurturing and supportive environment. The concept has spread due to media attention and because of the topic evoking so many different people's thoughts of what death means.

Death Cafes have helped to relax the taboo of speaking about death, particularly with strangers, and encouraged people to express their own wishes for after they die. The open-ended discussions also provide an avenue to express thoughts about one's own life stirred up by the death of a friend or family member.