Art of Dying Volume II | Page 74

JON UNDERWOOD & BILL PALMER We're here to support each other, not to debate the relative merits of one particular view of death or anything else. BILL PALMER There are people who come once and we never see them again. Some are what I would call regulars: they come to almost every one. Others pop in and pop out. They come for a staggering variety of reasons. I think a Death Cafe’s appeal is that, regardless of our differences, we're all going to die. That seems to effortlessly bind people together. focused on death and dying now, and that's a cultural transformation. Another cause is the very visible instability of the financial system and traditional business, legal, and religious institutions. Part of their function is to minimize and manage death anxiety, and now they’re tarnished and diminished, forcing people to look directly at death again. One woman has attended at least 30 Death Cafes, and she says exactly the same things in 2017 that she said in 2013. I don't understand why she keeps coming back, but there's something about it that attracts her. Of course, she's more than welcome. Every time she says, "My own death is not real to me," there's always someone who says, "Yeah, I feel exactly the same way," so she gets the support that she asks for. BILL PALMER: At every Death Café I set some ground rules right at the top. There's no forced topic of conversation—no icebreakers, no guests speakers, none of that. Any topic of conversation regarding death or people's feelings about death is welcome. If you don't want to talk, you don't have to. JON UNDERWOOD: There have been massive changes around death awareness since Death Café started. I think that Death Cafe is indicative of this shift. People like Caitlin Doughty from the Order of the Good Death have inspired thousands of people to become interested in death. Aging Boomers are more 74 | ART OF DYING You can just listen. That's fine. No one, no facilitator will ever call on you and say, "Well, what do you think?" A Death Café is a learning and support community, so if you're tempted to argue or debate, that's not welcome. If you hear something you don't like or don't understand, you are encouraged to be curious and to ask, but we're here to support each other, not to debate the relative merits of one particular view of death or anything else.