DC 2

What is a Death Café?

The Death Café movement was founded in 2011 by John Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid, based on the work of sociologist Bernard Crettaz. The first Death Café in the United States was held in 2012 by Lizzy Miles. Since its inception, thousands of Death Cafes have been held all over the world. The Moscow Public Library is excited to be able to join the movement to host these events for our community.

According to the Death Café organizers, “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 counselling session.” 

Community members are welcome to attend any Death Café held at the Moscow Public Library. While some children and teens might enjoy engaging in these conversations, we strongly encourage parents to use their best judgement when deciding whether to bring their kids. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable about joining the conversation but still want to attend a Death Café to see what it’s all about, and that’s great! We welcome all levels of participation. It can be uncomfortable, but it can also be deeply moving – often at the same time.

Past Death Cafes at the Moscow Library

We held our first Death Café in March 2023, and more than 35 people came! The Moscow-Pullman Daily News featured this first event on their front page, and we knew we were providing an opportunity many community members wanted. Since that first Café, we have held one every three months, with 12-18 attendees each time.

Because there is no set agenda or topic of discussion, it can be hard to predict how the conversation at a Death Café will be shaped. Past Death Cafes at the Moscow Public Library have included discussions about personal experiences with death and grief, belief or disbelief in an afterlife, how perspectives about death and dying have changed throughout a lifetime, wishes for future funeral or disposition, and more. It’s always a delightful surprise to see where the conversation goes!

People who have attended our past Death Cafes have told us that they are very meaningful. Direct quotes from patron feedback about this program:

  • “What a great concept, do it again!”
  • “Delightful exploration.”
  • “Great conversations, welcoming environment, safe space. I really liked today’s open conversation. It felt so inclusive and wonderful to hear stories and insights. Thanks.”

Future Death Cafes and other related programming and resources

Upcoming Death Café: June 4, 2024, 5:30 pm

For suggestions of where to start finding books related to death, dying, and grief, check out this column we published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

For a more comprehensive list of books in the Valnet catalog, peruse this list [Link that to a list in the Valnet catalog]. [Insert a bookshelf or other gallery of selected titles].

We have received a lot of great suggestions for how we might expand our programming related to death and dying. At this time, we do not have any additional events scheduled. We are working on ideas for future programs, though! If you have any ideas, please let us know.

Past Death Café program flyers