We were devastated to learn that Jon Underwood, the founder of the Death Cafe movement, died on Tuesday.
Jon wholeheartedly believed that engaging with death is both important and overlooked so made it his mission to encourage society to embrace death as part of life. His life’s work was the Death Cafe movement, which began in Jon’s front room in Hackney in 2011 as a gathering of people talking about death over tea and cake. The impact of Death Cafe has been huge – as of 28th June 2017, there have been nearly 5000 Death Cafes in over 50 countries.
Jon also painstakingly built and managed Funeral Advisor in association with the Natural Death Centre Charity and ran Impermanence – his commitment to doing good in the world by encouraging society to deal with death in interesting and innovative ways.
He was a source of invaluable advice, support and encouragement to others in the fields of death and dying, always generous with himself and his resources. He was one of the good guys – the most genuine, well intentioned, humble, kind hearted and gentle person, both professionally and personally. His absence will be deeply felt by everyone in our community and beyond.
Our thoughts are with his family right now.
Jon’s commitment to Death Cafe was unrivalled, and came at a cost. Since 2011, Jon funded his Death Cafe work entirely through his own personal savings and small freelance projects and had recently begun trying to fundraise very actively so he could pay his bills. We’d love to support Jon’s young children – Frank and Gina – and have set up a JustGiving page in his memory. Please donate generously.
Please watch this touching tribute to Jon which includes music by his daughter Gina.
He will be greatly missed but never forgotten, a quiet, inspirational revolutionary whose legacy is a better society. The Death Cafe movement has lost its founder, but his influence will continue spreading, like ripples on a pond.”
Fran Hall, CEO, The Good Funeral Guide
- Anna Lyons, Jon Underwood and Louise Winter at Jon’s house in Hackney during Life. Death. Whatever. in October 2016. This photo was taken by his son Frank.
The last time I saw Jon was when he was helping at Life. Death. Whatever. which was just around the corner from his house in Hackney, the home of Death Cafe. He offered his unconditional support in the form of informative talks, a Death Cafe, reassuring emails and many smiles, hugs and cups of tea.”
Louise Winter, Editor, The Good Funeral Guide
“I didn’t know Jon all that well. A man of still waters and deep spirituality, he was a of different order of human being from me. Which was why I liked being around him. People like Jon conduct good energy. I also enjoyed his twinkle. Only Jon could have teamed mortality-awareness with cake.
Please leave your tributes to Jon in the comments below.