"Death Café" may sound like Goth night at a local dive bar, but it's an open event being sponsored by the City of Chula Vista to facilitate a public discussion about death and dying.
Presented by writer Suzanne Romo and educator Deidra Springer, the free event at the Chula Vista Public Library on Tuesday, June 17, is intended to help attendees "demystify" death.
Debbie Taylor, branch manager of the library, said she agreed to present Death Café after being approached by Romo, who has held such events in libraries before.
"The public library is a wonderful place for people to come for an open forum on many topics," Taylor said. "The library can offer a safe environment to talk about a topic that is largely avoided. We can help alleviate the fear associated with dying…. I’m always looking for new ideas for adult library programs, so I thought this would be a nice addition to our summer programming schedule."
Death Cafés are a fairly new phenomenon that go back to similar gatherings led by sociologist Bernard Crettaz in Switzerland in 2004, according to Diane Howell, spokesperson for Chula Vista city government. Since then, the discussion groups have grown into a worldwide movement "to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their finite lives," said Howell.
Romo said her appreciation of the subject intensified when she had five people close to her die in one year. “I feel that it’s important for us to demystify death," Romo said. "By doing this, we can learn to squeeze every drop of life out of the time given to us.”
Taylor said she is "hopeful for an audience that is comfortable in the library setting and able to share their thoughts and fears openly with us" but added she is also "hopeful only positive people will come…. Death doesn’t have to be scary."
Reservations are required for the Death Café and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.