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Seen At 11: Death Cafes Give Participants A Chance To Confront Their Fears

Organizer: People Of All Ages Are Joining What Is A Difficult Conversation

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the past the subject had been considered taboo in social settings. Now, a new trend has made death the topic of conversation at planned gatherings.

At death cafe events guests gather to sip coffee, eat cookies, and talk about death, CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Thursday.

“Some of them are in public cafes. Some of them are in people’s homes,” host Jane Hughes Gignoux said.

The gatherings were started to explore different people’s perceptions about the end of life. People of all ages and backgrounds join the conversations in person and online.

“Some people come with questions. Some people come with things that they want to share. Some people come with anxieties,” Gignoux said.

Participants in the informal gatherings share a common interest.

“I want to just open up my mind a little bit and become a little bit more comfortable talking about death,” Claire Kinnen said.

Many want to discuss death but feel uncomfortable trying to bring the topic up around friends.

“Some of these conversations are not things that I could have every day with any of my friends,” said Sam Tomasello. “I just really relish these opportunities to just get it all out there.”

Experts told CBS 2’s Johnson that the popularity of the cafes is a sign that people have a need for this type of conversation.

“It’s a comfort to be able to share your concerns, your fears, your feelings about something that’s so much a part of all of our lives,” Dr. Phyllis Kosminsky said.

Kosminsky is the author of “Getting Back To Life When Grief Won’t Heal.” She said that the cafes give participants a chance to confront their fears.

Kosminksky called the trend healthy.

“Talking about death is helpful and potentially life-enriching because it brings our attention to what we value in life,” she explained.

The meetings are not designed for everyone and are not intended to take the place of counseling sessions or support groups, organizers said.

“Somebody who is in deep grief who might just recently, very recently, suffered a loss of a loved one probably might find it difficult,” Gignoux said.

The conversations appear to give people a healthy respect for different views on the end of life.

“Very heartening to see that people are curious and want to explore areas that they’ve never explored before,” Gignoux explained.

Death cafes are not advised for people who have mental health issues or suffer from depression.

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