Death Cafe a safe place for safe discussion

Open conversations. Local funeral celebrant Jade Whaley is bringing the "Death Cafe" to Timaru. PHOTO: HELEN HOLT

by Helen Holt

A local funeral celebrant is bringing the “Death Cafe” concept to Timaru.

The Death Cafe is an international initiative at which people are invited to talk about death in a safe environment over tea and cake.

There are over 12,638 cafes in 78 countries.

Funeral and marriage celebrant Jade Whaley said she wanted a place in Timaru for people to talk about death in a safe environment.

“There’s no set agenda. It’s not like a person will be standing up the front telling everyone what to do. We will just be having an open conversation.”

She was inspired to start a Death Cafe in Timaru after attending some in Christchurch and online conferences overseas, she said.

The cafe will be non-religious, and it will not force people to plan their funerals.

“It is open to ordinary people who want to talk about death in a safe environment,” Mrs Whaley said.

“There might be young people who are curious about death, or there may be some people who have been with someone who has died and want to share that.

“People who come will have to be mindful not to force their opinions on anyone else.

“It’s not an information night. It’s definitely not a grief support group.”

People often have big questions at the funerals she has directed, Mrs Whaley said.

“I’ve seen families come to me with questions.

“Many of them haven’t thought about death before.

“Some haven’t even considered that this person could die.

“And the kind of questions they ask, they’re not the sort you can just bring up randomly with a friend.

“Death shouldn’t be taboo. It’s a part of life, just like birth.”

She hoped that there would be a mix of people and age groups.

“Anyone with an open mind. If they can let me know that they’re coming, I will make sure there’s enough cake.”

The Death Cafe will meet on July 18 from 1pm to 2.30pm at Aoraki Funeral Services, Mountainview Rd, Timaru.