Death Cafe wants to shatter fears about taboo topic in Hamilton


Published August 7, 2023 at 4:03 pm


Drinking tea with strangers could be a “liberating experience” when it involves diving into the taboo topic of death and dying.

That’s the goal of the Death Cafe that a group from McMaster University and 100% Certainty Project, a community reading initiative, will be hosting on Wednesday (Aug. 9). Organizers believe getting people to talk about the topic could help them live their lives to the fullest. 

McMaster University’s palliative care division said it wants to break the ice about death and dying and “unveil the curtain on death” without expectations.

Death Cafe is described as an international movement where people gather to eat, drink tea and discuss death.

Organizers said the public event is “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,” the organizers explained on its website. “It is a respectful, public event where people of all communities and belief systems are welcome to have discussions about death.”

The Death Cafe organizers said they ultimately want to increase awareness and discussion about death and dying, and help to extend the talks to attendees’ social circles.

The “Death Cafe” happens on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is open to everyone at least 18 years of age. Participants are asked to arrive between 5:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

For free tickets, people are asked to register here.

It will be held on the second floor room 2035/36 at David Braley Health Sciences Centre at McMaster University (100 Main Street West). Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, email Tracy MacKinnon at [email protected] 

The facilitator is C. Elizabeth Dougherty, described as a social worker with extensive experience supporting individuals and families facing illness, uncertainty and loss and specializing in therapeutic counselling.

Jon Underwood, who founded the Death Cafe in the U.K. in 2011 that turned into a worldwide movement, had reportedly died from leukemia at age 44 in 2017.  The work of late Swiss sociologist and anthropologist Bernard Crettaz inspired the Death Cafe. Crettaz organized the first café mortel in 2004.

In another event discussing the preparation for death, Hamilton Municipal Cemeteries is hosting “Talk Tuesdays” every Tuesday in August from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help residents learn more about cemetery arrangements.

inthehammer's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising