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What is a death cafe?

The movement that aims to make talking about death less of a taboo

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Death remains a taboo subject. We even have a whole range of expressions to avoid using the word itself, like “kicked the bucket”, “popped his clogs” and “pushing up the daisies”.

So when one of our loved ones does pass away, it often comes as a huge shock. That’s where Death Cafes come in.

Founded in the UK in 2011, the Death Cafe movement aims to increase awareness and openness about death and dying by promoting discussions – often over tea and cake. Over 4,000 of these non-profit groups now meet regularly in the UK, Europe and North America.

Death Cafes aren’t bereavement counselling groups. Instead, the discussions are informal, covering topics such as recent and past losses, funeral wishes, near-death experiences and assisted suicide. The aim isn’t to be morbid but to “help people make the most of their (finite) lives”.

People go to Death Cafes to get used to the kind of conversations they’re bound to have in the future, or because they’ve been affected by a death in the past. They usually last an hour or two and take place in cafes, restaurants, private houses and sometimes cemeteries.

Talking about death with friendly people, rather than professionals like doctors, nurses and funeral directors, helps us get used to the idea that dying is inevitable.


Today, it’s not uncommon for people to reach the age of 35 or 40 without experiencing a death of a close relative, thanks to advances in medical care.

Informal conversations can only help us get what we want when it comes to our own passing. According to Dying Matters, reluctance to talk about death leads to 50% of people dying in hospital, even though 70% of us would prefer to die at home.

If you’re interested in holding your own Death Cafe, there’s an online guide on the organisation’s website.

If you have any questions on buying or arranging a funeral, we’ll do our best to answer them. Call Maplebrook Funeral Plans on 0800 059 0909.

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