Death Café organisers aim to break ‘last taboo’

Aly Dickenson and Adrian Eden are the organisers of the Death Cafe. Ref shs 8870-01-16TI. Picture: T

Aly Dickenson and Adrian Eden are the organisers of the Death Cafe. Ref shs 8870-01-16TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A global franchise of pop-up Death Cafés will be coming to Sidmouth to help residents break the taboo of talking about the end of their lives.

The cafés are run worldwide by volunteers as part of an objective to increase people’s awareness and ability to speak about death.

Jon Underwood developed the idea in 2010 after reading about the work of Swiss socialist and death café pioneer Bernard Crettaz.

Since hosting his first session at his home in Hackney in 2011, the number of cafés across the world has risen to 2,652.

Sidcliffe resident Aly Dickinson is working with Adrian Eden, of Funeral Celebrant, to bring the café to Sidmouth.

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She said: “We’re just trying to get people to talk about it. People used to be much more open about talking about death. It has become medicalised now and it’s a bit of a taboo. I know it seems really morbid and some people just flinch if they don’t know what it is. Group numbers can vary, but we can have a group of six, seven, eight people talking over coffee and cake. We just need people come with an open mind and give it a go.”

The 62-year-old works as a director and end of life doula with Living Well, Dying Well.

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The not-for-profit company provides trained doulas to support people at the beginning and the end of their lives.

Aly said: “People go for different reasons. For one woman in her 40s, her mum died when she was three. She was told ‘she was just not around any more’ and she wanted to be able to talk to her children about death.

“There was someone else who wanted to make sure that at the end of his life he came to be at home and he wanted to know what to do.

“Other people are just interested. It isn’t a lonely hearts get-together and it isn’t bereavement counselling. It is a really the last taboo. It’s like the fear of talking about sex, we can talk about death.”

The Death Café will be held at Coastal Coffee Lounge from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, January 21.

Aly said if the event is successful she would like to arrange a meeting every couple of months.

To book a place, email as spaces are limited.

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