Death in the community

Charles Cowling

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 thoughts on “Death in the community

  1. Charles Cowling
    Ade Oduyemi

    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.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

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

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    They stole Costa(fortune) ages ago!

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling

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

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    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?

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling

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

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling
    Rupert Callender

    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,
    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.

    Charles Cowling
  8. Charles Cowling

    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!

    Charles Cowling
  9. Charles Cowling
    Kathryn Edwards

    So, when will you be opening?


    Charles Cowling

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