Written by Brent Johnson
The need for a Death Cafe in Longmont seems very much alive. It is a venue for a “group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief-support or counseling session,” according to the Death Cafe website.
The overall purpose of a Death Cafe is to de-stigmatize the topic of death, according to Geo Case, who facilitates these sessions. He notes that “humor and laughter are often present during meetings. Participants comprise a diverse, intergenerational demographic. They discuss their personal experiences and ponder ‘the big question’ which sometimes leads to tears.” Case has years of professional experience in home-healthcare, and he is currently a chaplain for hospice as well as a shamanic-practitioner, which involves ceremonial healing and a focus on the afterlife.
Death Cafes have spread rapidly and internationally since their 2011 inception. Around 7,669 of these sessions have been held in 65 countries, including the United States, according to the Death Cafe website. A Death Cafe can take place with one session, or as an ongoing venue, depending upon the need of participants.
The first Death Cafe held in Boulder County took place in 2013, stated Case. He stresses that these sessions are very casual, where strangers gather to discuss death in their lives over cake and tea and “there is no proselytizing or selling in this social franchise.” Serving cake and tea lends these sessions to take on a café-like setting.
The Longmont Death Cafe will “create a safe space… allowing people to take baby steps. Speaking isn’t necessary, participants can just listen,” according to Case. He feels such a venue will “improve a comfort zone, hopefully, to lead to a cultural change for better understanding around death and dying.” Normalizing the topic can make it easier for people to go through their own dying process or that of a loved one.
The Longmont Death Cafe is slated for Saturday, February 9, 2019, 2:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. at the Longmont office of Out Boulder County, 630 Main Street. It is the first Death Cafe held at this venue, according to Out Boulder County Executive Director Mardi Moore. She feels there is a genuine local need for the Death Cafe since “people in Longmont seek community and deeper relationships in a venue for such.”
Moore noted that there has been a jump in the number of hate incidents in Boulder County since June—over 15 of these have been reported to Out Boulder County. LGBTQ suicide among teens is substantially higher than others in that age group–social pressure and a lack of acceptance contribute to this, according to Moore.
According to government data, Colorado ranks seventh nationally in teen suicides, with Montana, Alaska, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho in the lead.
Moore invited Geo Case to facilitate due to his “experience with the Death Cafe and his familiarity with the LGBTQ community.” Moore feels that the Death Cafe in the Longmont community will create a space for people to talk about related taboos. She added that, “this venue will not be set up to be morbid, but rather a conversation focusing on where individuals are in their lives and the known outcome of death.”
How much do you value the Longmont Observer?
As Longmont’s only nonprofit newsroom, our only vested interest is to supply you with quality, nonpartisan, community-driven, Longmont-focused journalism. But, we need your help. We depend on our members to help us report Longmont news and to keep our journalism available and accessible by all. If you value what we do at the Longmont Observer, please show us with your support.