Death. Now that’s something we all have in common! Sooner or later we will all experience it. What we don’t necessarily share is the way we look at it. Most of us don’t like to think about it at all, much less talk about it. We just want to wait death out and then pass off the technical details to the professionals. That attitude may be changing, however, as people begin to embrace the still small, but growing Death Positive Movement.
You may not have heard the term death positive, but you may have encountered people in every life who exhibit its tenents. These are people who are open to talking about death, don’t view it as morbid, and want to make sure that their loved ones know how their final arrangements should be handled. These death positivers may also be skeptical about the funeral industry and open to what we think of as non-traditional ways of handling our final celebration. Perhaps they would prefer something eco-friendly or to have their funeral at home.
There have always been people who are undeterred when it comes to death and to be sure, people who are death positive are not homogenous. What they do have in common is the desire to be open about the role that death plays in life and they are not afraid to talk about it.
At the forefront of the death positive movement is mortician Caitlin Doughty. In recent years she has become a bit of a celebrity but her site, The Order of the Good Death, has been helping spread the word and educating since 2011. Ms. Dougherty is an appealing spokesperson who has the unique ability to take a topic that many find disturbing and transform it into something humorous and interesting. Because of this, she has developed an exuberant following, and her books From Here To Eternity and When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes are enjoying success. No doubt, her charisma that is helping to give the movement some traction. We actually interviewed Caitlin in 2014 for our blog, Digital Dying. The interview gives some interesting insight into how she thinks about death and hints at some of the things that brought her to where she is today.
Interest in the Death Positive Movement is only one indication that we are becoming more comfortable with talking about death. The rise of the death cafe is another indication.
A death cafe is a simple concept. The site Death Cafe puts it best.
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.
Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives, or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session.
Our Death Cafes are always offered:
- On a not for profit basis
- In an accessible, respectful, and confidential space
- With no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action
- Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing food – and cake!
These gatherings began in Europe in 2011 and spread quickly. According to the site, there are now active in more than 56 countries.
We’ll be talking more about death cafes in upcoming articles. The point is, more and more people are finding ways to express their feelings about death and accept it as a part of everyday life. At Funeralwise we think this is a good thing. We’d love to hear what you think. If you’d like to tell us a story or ask us a question, you can do that by clicking below. You can also comment. While it’s not exactly a death cafe, let’s have a conversation about it.
Are You Death Positive? References