Sunday was a beautiful day in the Bay Area, and I headed out about 12:30 for the first Alameda Death Cafe, which a friend of mine was hosting. When I saw her announcement on Facebook, I was so excited, and forgot to censor myself in the days that followed. I was saying things like, “I can’t wait to go to the Death Cafe on Sunday!” Quite a few people (including some of my relatives) literally took a step back.
So when I got to the cafe and waited in line for some tea, I asked in a hushed tone, “Where is the Death Cafe.” The woman, smiling back at me, directed me to the backyard patio and up the stairs.
The person behind me in line said, “what is Death Cafe?!” She leaned forward, eager to hear and I told her that it was an international movement encouraging people to come together, drink tea, eat cake and talk about death. She was excited, and we talked for a few minutes about her work as a hospice nurse and mine on the radio show Good Grief. Then I headed upstairs. She headed off to some previous commitment, wishing she could stay instead.
For two hours, 20 of us talked about death, but is it really possible to talk about death without talking about life, and dying and love and what’s important? For me it isn’t, and that’s part of why I couldn’t wait to enter that room. I long for and savor conversations where we can talk about ANYTHING and really, if you start with death, nothing else is that hard to bring up.
So in December, I’ll look for the Death Cafe in Oakland, and probably go back to Alameda too, just to sit with people who want to talk about death, no other motive. And it will feed my soul, nourish me to go back to living and to facing death, with renewed energy.