Common problems in estate administration, which may lead to litigation, are a lack of planning or a lack of communication. Either someone dies intestate, subjecting their family to the arbitrary rules of intestate succession, or the deceased has left a will with unexpected provisions, without speaking to their family members about their wishes before their death. A possible reason that people might not wish to make a will or talk to their loved ones once they have prepared their will is a reluctance to talk about death.

A growing worldwide movement, “Death Cafe”, aims to remove the taboo surrounding talking about death. The Death Cafe website states its objective is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”. At a Death Cafe, people gather to discuss death with others, often strangers, over tea and cake. They are run by volunteers on a not for profit basis, with no agenda or product to sell. Facilitators are discouragedPCWQ4VAJIK from mentioning their professions or businesses during the sessions.

It is important to note that these events are not counselling sessions, nor do they offer information on death or dying. In fact, guest speakers and information sessions are actively discouraged. The conversation is largely unstructured, with facilitators introducing questions to guide the conversation if necessary.

Death Cafe was started by Jon Underwood in England in September 2011. Since then, the idea has spread and gained in popularity. According to the website, there have been 3455 Death Cafes held across Europe, North America, and Australasia to date.

Death Cafes are regularly held in Toronto. Dates, times, and locations for upcoming Death Cafes can be found on their website. The next Toronto Death Cafe is scheduled for September 14, 2016 at the Belljar Cafe on Dundas St. W.

Thank you for reading.

Suzana Popovic-Montag