Updated: Jan 18
What a wonderful turnout for Spectrum's 2nd ever Death Cafe! People from all walks of life showed up, I estimated around 35-40 attendees. I started out the evening by asking people to anonymously write down why they came on the cards provided and submit them to me so that I could get a feel for what my community's needs are in this respect. Those who arrived later didn't have the opportunity to do so, but I received almost 30 responses. We also sent around a mailing list signup sheet, and most people wrote their info down on that.
There were several couples who came to the event as a date night idea, which was adorable. I love love, and I especially like the juxtaposition of love and death in a setting for open conversation. I met people from varying religions, careers, and age ranges. Some folks had experienced a loss, others were approaching the 1 year anniversary of significant losses, and others still were grappling with the knowledge that someone they love is sick and going to die soon. A couple of people were just looking for connection!
The seating arrangement was a little awkward initially, the lounge is very casual, but people figured it out and got really comfy as the night progressed. There were 6 groups in total, some had 10 people while others had 3. The conversation seemed to flow to all sorts of tones, sad, happy, serious, and playful. Drinks and food were ordered by many, and my cookies and tea were consumed happily.
People were genuinely connecting, and engaged in conversation with people they had never met before. It was loud, and chaotic, but it was clear people were into it.
At the end I had to shout to get everyone's attention, and wrap up the evening by having one person from each group share a recap of what was discussed. I made sure to bring applause for every person who shared and of course for the people who mentioned they were here on a date (or in the case of one person, who got locked out of her house and decided Death Cafe was a great alternative).
People seemed to take meaning from it, and I received a lot of applause after a short monologue...which was reassuring as I'm still uncertain in my public speaking. I want to host another meeting before the end of the year, and I suspect I'm going to break away from the Death Cafe franchise and use a different name.
This meeting seems like a great way to connect people who have similar things they need a safe space to talk about, and to bring about really amazing ideas and concepts. I want people to feel heard, and safe, and that it is okay to be in the place they are with grief, death, and life in general.
I look forward to seeing what amazing community members this brings in next time.