The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Death in the community

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Here’s an interesting idea: the café mortel, or death café. Never heard of it? No, I hadn’t either. It’s a Swiss thing, apparently. In the words of the Independent:

The concept, although a little morbid, is straightforward enough – a dozen strangers meet to have a drink and talk about death for a couple of hours. The participants in Paris were surprised by how straightforward the discussion was.

Death is a taboo subject in France, according to Swiss sociologist and death café pioneer Bernard Crettaz. “French people find it very difficult to talk about death,” he said. He says his mission is to liberate death from what he calls “tyrannical secrecy”.

“I am never so in tune with the truth as during one of these soirées. And I have the impression that the assembled company, for a moment, and thanks to death, is born into authenticity,” he writes in his new book, Cafés Mortels: Sortir la Mort du Silence, or “bringing death out of silence”. [Source]

This has really got my mind buzzing…

9 comments on “Death in the community

  1. Tuesday 23rd August 2011 at 9:35 am

    To my way of thinking, talking about death is perfectly natural, afterall, if there were no death, life would be very different from the cherished thing we now know it to be.

  2. Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 7:06 pm

    As their embalmers like to say, ‘Would you like an extra shot?’

  3. Jonathan

    Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 7:00 pm

    They stole Costa(fortune) ages ago!

  4. Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Jonathan, that’s brilliant! I have to tell you that the Cock-up have already stolen Costa.

  5. Jonathan

    Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 6:30 pm

    And here’s to a good quality cup of coffin to go with the discussions. We need a name for such a place over here in coy old Blighty… Cafe Necro?

  6. Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Rupert you do not come over the least bit world weary. Thanks a lot for these excellent signposts.

  7. Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I hate to get all ‘been there done that’ (well actually I quite like it) but our venerable founder of The Natural Death Centre Josefine Speyer has been running Death Salons for a number of years now, alongside the mighty Susan Morris. They are intimate and infrequent affairs but well worth getting involved if you can. Look out for details as to where and when on our website, http://www.naturaldeath.org.
    And Nicola, there is such a thing as a life cafe, well as near as dammit run by Alain De Botton called The School of Life which has all sorts of lectures and discussions about lots of matters trivial and weighty. The various topics and lecturers are featured in the Observer magazine.

  8. Nicola

    Wednesday 12th January 2011 at 9:20 am

    Great! Although it’s a shame that there has to be a dedicated (and designated) place to talk about something that is happening around us and to us all the time. There isn’t a ‘life’ cafe where you go to talk about life, is there?!
    All that aside, anything that gets people talking about death is a good idea in my book. Especially if it’s called Cafe de Dood!

  9. Kathryn Edwards

    Tuesday 11th January 2011 at 9:24 pm

    So, when will you be opening?

    K

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