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Conversations in Community

Community conversations about Death and Dying have been growing steadily in recent years. Hospice programs, community groups, colleges, universities, and faith-based organizations sponsor community meetings where attendees can get information on the subject and get answers to their questions. Social media pages, radio, and television also offer information to initiate local conversations.

The emergence of the Death Café movement in the U.S. has been impressive. Started in the UK by Jon Underwood in 2011, he credits Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist, for initiating Cafes Mortels in 2010.

Death Cafés are casual meetings where community members can share ideas, explore issues, and reflect on their personal experiences, feelings, and wishes in a confidential, accepting setting. Issues of care-giving, aging, and dying are openly discussed. The objective of a Death Café is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

Policies and guidelines for organizing Cafés as well as a listing of the dozens of Cafes scheduled across the US and Canada can be found at

Barbara Sarah, a member of this CEN Conscious Dying team, has organized thirty Death Cafés in New York’s Hudson Valley, sponsored by the Circle of Friends for the Dying. Information can be found on Facebook at Death Café Hudson Valley.

Death Over Dinner is another popular movement that has attracted considerable attention. The website gives information about organizing dinners dedicated to meaningful conversations about death and dying.

Consumer Funeral Alliances offer community members an opportunity to get useful information about funeral planning. It is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer's right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral. CFA is a watchdog group that has educational community meetings and conversations about funeral practices, burials,etc.

A Google or other web search on "community conversations about death and dying" will produce an extensive listing of groups that are sponsoring regular meetings. At least fifteen States have events listed at schools, community centers, etc., and resources and ideas for organizing community conversations can be found at many of the sites.