Death Cafe Comes to Call

Barbara Adolphe, for the Shuttle

What in the world is a “Death Café?”

A Death Café is an opportunity to join people of all ages and backgrounds for a group-directed discussion of death . . . while eating cake! It provides an open, supportive forum for the discussion of mortality free of taboo and social stigma. A Death Café has no agenda, objectives or themes. It is not a grief-support group or counseling session, but rather an evening of respectful, open sharing about death in a relaxed atmosphere, over coffee, tea and snacks.

Over the past seven years, the Death Café phenomenon has spread across Europe, North American and Australia, with thousands of Death Cafés being offered throughout the world. Since the movement began in 2011, more than 5,000 pop-up cafés have been held in 51 countries, with the majority being held in the United States, including one ongoing group in Philadelphia since 2013.

Ron Palacio, who has attended Philadelphia Death Café events with his wife Donna Wolf-Palacio, says about 25 attend the monthly sessions. “The group provides a very relaxed and nurturing setting where we can join in an open and honest discussion to explore and share the curiosities of a very difficult topic,” Ron said. “Despite the fact that we certainly talk about life, dying and grief, there is a lot of humor from the many different stories and cultures and venues that people experience.”

Five organizations — Weavers Way, Northwest Village Network, East Falls Village, Mt. Airy USA and Ralston My Way — have formed the Northwest Coalition for Healthy Aging and are bringing a Death Café to Mt. Airy on Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. It will be held in the beautiful new community meeting room at the reopened Lovett Library, 6945 Germantown Ave. The organizer of the Philadelphia Death Café, Pat Bubb, along with her cohost Simcha Raphel, will facilitate. It’s free and people of all ages are welcome. Registration will begin at 6:45. You can also register in advance; secure your spot or get more information by emailing Barbara Adolphe at or by leaving a message at 973-903-2018.

For more information about Death Cafés, visit or check out “Welcome to Death Café,” a recent article in

Barbara Adolphe is a Weavers Way working member.