Being of the stiff upper lip persuasion, English people tend not to talk about death. In fact, they avoid talking about it so much that the English language is now full of painful euphemisms such as ‘he’s gone to sleep’, ‘we lost her’ and ‘ he’s gone to the big castle/playground/Londonist office in the sky’.
There is a strong argument, however, to say that talking seriously about death would prompt us to contemplate our own mortality, spur us to make the most of life and generally improve our mental health. Fortunately for Londoners, the pop-up Death Café allows you to do just that.
Thanks to founder Jon Underwood, who was inspired by Switzerland’s cafés mortels, visitors to the café can meet in a welcoming environment and discuss all aspects of death over tea and cake. The events happen periodically, although the establishment of a permanent café is one of Jon’s long term goals, and visitors to previous events – including the cafés at the Southbank Centre’s Death Festival – have noted the sense of cameraderie and open exploration that they engender.
The next cafés are on 5th May, between 2-4pm at the Create Place in Bethnal Green and 16th May, from 7-9pm at Cakey Muto in Hackney. There is no set fee, although donations are welcomed, and to reserve a space or enquire about setting up your own cafe, email Jon.
The Death Cafes take place on 5th May and 16th May in East London. For full details see www.deathcafe.com