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Death Café looks to make discussion about death more comfortable

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Talking about death may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is now an opportunity to sit down, enjoy a coffee and discuss some people’s biggest fear.

“The Death Café is a super simple premise is just to get people together, introduce yourselves, talk about why you’re interested in being there to talk about death and then that’s it.

The conversation just grows organically from there,” assistant biology professor Tessa Durham-Brooks said.

Conversations that have been brought up in previous meetings include physician

assisted suicide, the coping and grieving process, spirituality and just reminiscing about people who have died.

Along with English professor Phil Weitl and director of pre-health programs Melissa Clouse, Durham-Brooks hosts a time to discuss all things associated with death in the Brew House every two months.

“This is not a grief or counseling session,” Durham-Brooks added.

Durham-Brooks brought the idea of a Death Café to Crete after she attended a training in Minnesota that also had a Death Café. The first Death Café was held in January and has been held every two months since then.

Sept. 21 will be the fifth Death Café that will be held in Crete. At first the café was offered by invite only to friends, then expanded to faculty and staff at Doane. It has been growing rapidly and is now open to students at Doane and Crete community.

The café in Crete is one of the 9103 Death Cafes in 65 countries that have been held. It is also the first one to be located in Nebraska since 2015. The Death Café’s objective is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping

people make the most of their (finite) lives’,” according to their website, deathcafe.com.

The website also says that they are non-profit and has no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action. It also includes that it is an accessible, respectful and confidential space.

There are never agendas, advertising or set conclusions at the meetings.

Durham-Brooks became interested in discussions of death after taking a class that looked at the study of aging.

After doing research she noticed how even medical professionals have very little education on aging and how to talk about death with patients.

“Conversation is one of the most powerful things that you can do to affect the quality of life of people,” she said.

Durham-Brooks is offering to buy a coffee and pastry for any students that attend the Death Café.