Death cafés help people live life to the fullest


by KING 5 News

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 6:35 PM

There are meet ups for all kinds of things, but a growing trend is gatherings about a topic many consider taboo: death.

While the groups are meeting about death and dying, organizers say it's also about living life to the fullest.

At death cafés, the focus is the end of life.

"I think when you get together with people and start to have these conversations, it takes away some of the fear," said Bastyr University's Dr. Brad Lichtenstein.

Adults of all ages and backgrounds take part in these meet-ups all over the country.

"I want to just open up my mind a little bit and become a little bit more comfortable talking about death," said one woman.

Lichtenstein says that's exactly the point since we all to face death sooner or later.

"I've known some people whose loved one got ill and they just couldn't bring themselves to see them, because it was so charged, and then they've lived with regret ever since," he said.

Unhealthy avoidance can also lead to unnecessary family discord.

"Many times you see at bedside families fighting, saying "This is what mom would have wanted; no this is what Mom would have wanted.' Well, Mom never wrote down what Mom wanted and never expressed that to anybody," said Lichtenstein.

He says recent events like the Oso landslide tend to make people stop and take stock.

"Many times after a tragic event you'll find that people start calling their loved ones and saying 'I love you,' ending every conversation with, 'I love you, I understand that now,'" "Does it take a tragedy for that to happen? I say no."

He says in some ways a death café is less about than it is about embracing the here and now so we avoid regrets.

"I really do think about this as a life café," he said.

Bastyr will be hosting a series of death cafés beginning this Wednesday night. They're free and will include tea and cake, gluten free of course.