Skip to Main Content

Supporting End-of-Life Care: Death Doulas, Death Cafes, & Grief Resources: What is a Death Cafe?

What is a Death Cafe?

New Death Cafe logo

Official logo of "Death Cafe" from 

A death cafe is a group of people (most commonly strangers) getting together over a hot beverage and a dessert (often cake), to have the opportunity to informally talk about death. 

Death is often seen as a taboo topic, yet it's very much a part of every living being's life. Death cafes were first started by Bernard Crettaz in 2004, a Swiss sociologist who found a need for people to openly talk about death. He called the sessions "Cafe Mortals" after a tradition in continental Europe called "cafe philo" or "cafe scientifique," in which people met in a public place to have talks about interesting academic topics. Later a British man named Jon Underwood was intrigued by the idea and decided to begin a similar concept, officially called Death Cafes in 2011. Lizzy Miles, a US hospice & social worker, organized the first death cafe in America in the summer of 2012. 

The cafes are not meant to be grief support or or even a group discussion on any one specific area of death, but more a chance for people to freely voice their thoughts, fears, and questions about death.

Death cafes can act as a platform to NORMALIZE the conversation of death, as a part of living

According to Jon Underwood's website & group guidelines (listed below), death cafes cannot charge people for attending or sell any type of service. They are meant to be a public service & time for people to have a safe space to talk about the complexities of life and death without judgement. The hope is that by allowing death to have a safe place in our conversations the stigma and anxiety related to the topic of death can be lessened. 

For all the guidelines of running your very own Death Cafe, please use the Official Guide from -

Below you will find the international website for the Official Death Cafe, along with a few articles and peer-reviewed papers on the topic: 

How can I find a Death Cafe?

While this site does not include ALL Death Cafe Events worldwide, you can find many upcoming events listed via the Death Cafe main website: 

Death over Dinner

Death over Dinner

A similar concept to a death cafe, "Death over dinner" began in 2013 in the U.S. The focus of this event is to have a favorite family meal and bring about the difficult conversation of what people would like for a good end-of-life/death experience. The founders advocate for families to take the time to also review and fill out advance directives, so together, the whole family (and additional loved ones) understands what each other wants at the time of advanced illness and death. 

This website offers unique tools on how to have the conversation with family members, how to do a test run, and even has separate versions of the experience for Jewish families, a specific Australian edition, and a Doctors and Nurses edition. 

Below is the website for Death over Dinner, along with a link to their popular TED talk. 

Carrie Forbes, MLS

Profile Photo
Carrie Forbes
Laupus Library
Room 2518
East Carolina University
600 Moye Blvd.
Greenville, NC 27834
252-744-2217 -OR- 252-689-8734 (TEXT)
Subjects: Nursing