Death Café

we are interested in the emergence of the death café movement as a cultural phenomenon

what is a death café?

At a death cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death, dying, grief, loss and bereavement.
According to the originators of the aim is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
A death cafe is normally a group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes.
The idea of the Café Mortel was introduced by Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz, and has its basis in the philosophy cafe.

our death café research

Anthropologist and end of life lecturer Dr Naomi Richards is leading our internationally-focused research, asking:

  • Can death cafés be defined as a 'cultural' end of life intervention?
  • How has the death cafe initiative spread around the world?
  • What form do death cafés take in different countries?
  • Do the motivations of death café organisers reflect the original ethos of the death café initiative?
  • How far can death cafés be considered a new social movement?
  • What is the relationship between the death cafés being run in a country and that country’s broader cultural attitudes towards death and dying?

our death cafés

We organised our first death café in the nearby village of Thornhill in April 2015, with the aim of engaging with our Dumfries and Galloway community and helping local people talk about death and dying.

We held a fireside death café at the Environmental Art Festival Scotland in August 2015, and since then have held and helped at several others.

We hope to work collaboratively to encourage more death cafés to be held on a regular basis. We are currently looking at a variety of types of venues with an eye to ‘widening participation’ to encourage different socio-economic groups to join in the discussion.

There won’t be any formal research taking place at our cafés, although we invite participants to give feedback after each event.

If you are interested collaborating with us on a death café, please contact us.

in the media

Here is some media coverage of our death cafés: