Home | News | Coffins over coffee: take a seat at Australia’s newest Death Café

Coffins over coffee: take a seat at Australia’s newest Death Café

Fancy speaking with a stranger about your death, or theirs, over a couple of crumpets and some chai?

Talking about the end of life isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s exactly why two academics decided to set up a Death Café at Murdoch University’s Perth campus.

People in Australia tend to be death-phobic, counselling lecturer Dr Margaret Sealey said.

“Australia has become more of a secular society where, for many, religion has been replaced by football, cricket, beer and shopping,” Sealey said.

“While there is nothing wrong with this, it means that some people are not looking to religion any more to explain or provide comfort in death.

“Our own research and experiences as practitioners and educators have shown us that, on the whole, Australians are not willing to discuss death either.”

To bridge this gap, Sealey and nursing lecturer Dr Ruth Wei decided to jump on board the worldwide Death Café movement, which encourages patrons to talk about things like end of life care options and experiences with after-death requests.

The first Death Café took place in London in 2011, with the late Jon Underwood at the helm. But the concept stretched back further than that. In 2004, the Swiss could get together for one of sociologist Bernard Crettaz’s café mortels.

Since then, the idea has spread, with Death Cafés cropping up across several continents, including Australia – Western Australia has played host to multiple so far.

Wei wanted the movement to raise awareness of issues and options related to death, and relevant health services available for patients and families, such as palliative care.

She and Sealey said they hope the Murdoch Death Café will attract not only university students and staff but also people from the wider community.

The next event will be held on Thursday 9 May at Sir Walter’s Café, from 3pm.

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