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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Death Cafe encourages open dialogue

MONICA CHAN / AGGIE
MONICA CHAN / AGGIE

Unitarian Universalist Church hosts free event at Davis Cemetery

On Saturday, May 15, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis hosted its third Death Cafe at the Davis Cemetery. The event is a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and discuss their thoughts and experiences with death.

The Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum facilitated the event, providing an outdoor area under tents. Snacks and refreshments were provided while extremely invigorating and enlightening conversation took place.

The Death Cafe began in 2011 in the United Kingdom as a simple gathering at someone’s house. People around the world quickly gained interest in the concept, which enables people to have an open discussion on a universal topic that is often taboo and not discussed.

According to the Death Cafe website, the objective of each meeting is “to increase awareness of death with a view of helping people make the most of their finite lives.”

The event is free and is not intended to draw conclusions or to force ideas on people.

Kristi Dvorak, the community outreach director for the Davis Cemetery, states that she has only heard positive feedback from those who attended and that she has seen people return for numerous years in a row. She adds that people from all walks of life and of all ages come to the event and value the insight. The growing interest had been recognized and she plans to continue the event as long as people want.

“We usually break [attendants] up into groups of eight. We don’t have any formal rules. We might have someone help get the conversation going and people just talk about how they feel and what’s going on in their life,” Dvorak said. “It’s a way for people to gather in an informal way and have cake and coffee or whatever and talk about death and life and what your concerns are or what your story is. Everyone has their own reasons for coming, but it’s something that affects all of us.”

Laura Thompson, ministerial intern for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, emphasizes her belief that youth will benefit more from participating in death cafes than seniors. She states that although the majority of those who come out are older, the older population typically has more experience with death and is more comfortable with the topic. However, Thompson believes that because the youth have less experience with life and death, the topic brings more anxiety to them, due to fear of the unknown.

“I think it’s important because we don’t talk about death as much as we should in our culture,” Thompson said. “It provides a really non-threatening, non-crisis setting for that to happen because often times when we do talk about it, it is in the hospital, or the lawyer’s office, or a really stressful time. And so here it’s an opportunity for people to talk about it and share their experiences and make space for that.”

Sophia Flores, a second-year Chicano studies and sociology major, has attended the Death Cafe and explains that the experience she enjoyed hearing different ideas on death.

“I never openly thought of death being something that is also living — it has not been something that has ever been in conversation around me. And I think that something I got out of it was that no matter how each of us has experienced death, we’re not alone in the process through it,” Flores said.

 

Written By: HADYA AMIN – city@theaggie.org

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