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Introducing Death Café: How Talking Can Help You Overcome Your Fear of Dying

By Margaret Manning April 02, 2016 Mindset

Ok, I have a confession to make. As much as I know that it is counterproductive, I often find myself thinking about death.

Like many women my age, I sometimes ponder the big questions like, “What happens after we die?” Other times, I worry about what will happen to my family when I am gone. To a certain extent, I think that these questions are natural as we get a little older.

On the other hand, most of us realize that thinking about death isn’t overly productive. After we have dealt with the practical questions of how we want to be buried and what to put in our will, pondering our mortality is a (pardon the pun) dead end.

Well, today I spoke with a fascinating gentleman who has come across a completely different way of coming to terms with our eventual demise. His name is Jon Underwood and his is in the process of launching a series of events called “Death Cafes.”

I’ll explain exactly what this means in a second, but, at a high level, John believes that we should stop thinking about death by ourselves and start discussing it in public. After our conversation I have to say that I agree!

Please enjoy the video. Then, join the conversation at the end of this article.

What is a Death Café?

Despite their name, “Death Café’s” have little to do with coffee and everything to do with overcoming our fear of death. The meetings are held in public places, like cafes, libraries or pubs. During our interview, John explains that these events are designed to host 10-12 people, providing an intimate setting for discussing the only destination that we are all guaranteed to visit – death.

To be honest, when you hear the concept of Death Café’s described in words, it sounds somewhat morbid. I mean, really. Who wants to get together to talk about their mortality. The more I listened to John, however, the more I started to believe in this concept. I started to wonder how my own fear of death was preventing me from living my life to the full. Whether we admit it or not, I suspect that most of us silently fear death.

As Steve Jobs once said, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.”

What Aspects of Death Should We Talk About?

John explains that, since launching in 2011, over 2,500 Death Café events have been held, in 32 countries around the world. Contrary to what you might imaging, he says that you typically encounter more laughter than tears at these events.

In a strange way, everyone is equal when you start to talk about death. It doesn’t matter how popular you are or how much money that you have. What matters is how you live your life.

As John points out, the end result of many of their Death Café meetings is a discussion of finding one’s purpose in life. As you face your mortality, you start to realize that the best way to overcome a fear of death is to live actively and fully today.

John adds that many people realize that their fear of death is linked to their “unfinished business.” Talking about death helps us to realize that we still have time to say the things that we want to say and do the things that we want to do.

This was one of the most fascinating interviews that I have done since founding Sixty and Me. I hope that it encourages you to face your own mortality in a positive way and, more importantly, life every amazing day that you have left with passion.

How often do you think about death? What do you think of the concept of “death cafes?” Let’s get a conversation started!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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