Get Comfortable Talking about Death

We spoke to Aingie Miller, who has recently setup a new death cafe in Manawatu and her experiences discussing what is typically considered a taboo topic. Read more about Death Cafes or find one near you…

Manawatu Death Cafe

Manawatu Death Café is in it’s infancy, but it’s off to a roaring start! We are about to host our 3rd meeting, and as hosts we have been pleasantly surprised by how many people want to discuss what’s typically considered a taboo topic: death.

After attending the Kapiti Death Café (not hosted in a café, and not anything like the Death by Chocolate Café) I found myself leaving inspired by the uplifting, open, and honest conversation. It was refreshingly enjoyable to be in a room full of individuals who were comfortable talking about death.

New Zealand has a culture of not openly talking about death, and it’s certainly not your typical dinner party conversation, but in 2023, why shouldn’t it be?! At Death Café we talk about all sorts of death related subjects. Some people who attend are in the death care industry, and come with their professional experience, whilst others come with their personal experiences. Everyone’s point of view is an opportunity of new knowledge. Some people participate in discussions and share their experiences, others might sit back and listen.

Okay, for some, the topic of death can be seen as morbid or a bit daunting at first – but one of my favourite all-time quotes is ‘nobody was killed from talking about death!’ so if it won’t kill you, and if it’s not infectious…then lets #talkdeath. In fact, you may find it can be quite liberating!

Death Café is an international social franchise founded in 2011 by Jon Underwood, in the UK. Since then, they have popped up all over the globe, and in recent years in New Zealand Aotearoa – we have them dotted all over the country now too.

Underwoods’ objective is helping us ‘make the most of our finite lives’, and for us in the mighty Manawatu, it is about creating a safe place where people can feel encouraged and comfortable to talk about death matters.

We strongly believe that having positive and healthy death conversation enables you to feel more prepared for death, which, in the long run, is better for the greater well-being of our communities.

People will have reservations and mixed emotions, but our goal is to have the opportunity to fill your cup – not only with coffee, but of course, you can have that too!

Be inspired, be educated, be empowered, and leave in a more knowledgeable position than you did when you arrived. That is all about the art of good conversation, and I don’t need to remind you that, in this case, its good death conversation!

We are a group of strangers (now with some familiar faces) who meet every couple of months to chat for around 90 minutes, hold relaxed conversations about whatever aspect of death might come up.

It’s essential to know these meetings are not grief support or counselling groups, and each session has no agenda.

Our meetings are hosted in cafés around Manawatu, because they are a nice neutral space, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of cake with their coffee!

This is a safe place for everyone, so if you’re curious, look up a Death Café meeting near you.

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