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Death Cafe: Discussing Death and Finding Support

Death Café | Nampa, Peace River, Grimshaw & Fairview, AB

What’s a Death Café? It’s a safe place to gather and talk about life, loss, grief and gratitude.

The first Death Café—called Café Mortel—was started by Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist and ethnologist. In 2011, the practice was popularized in England. Now, Death Cafés can be found all over the world.

The main objective has remained the same, which is to increase awareness of death and help people make the most of their lives. These thoughtful meetings have recently begun to pop up in the Peace Region thanks to local curiosity and volunteers who want to make a difference.

While training to become a death doula, Janet McKnight first heard about Death Cafés online and was intrigued by the notion of gathering to openly discuss death and dying.

After joining the Peace Palliative Care Society, McKnight found the organization was keen on organizing and hosting these kinds of events.

Although the gatherings aren’t grief counselling sessions, McKnight saw firsthand how they give attendees a sense of comfort and safety as they speak about their experiences.

“At the Death Café, we discuss, explore—and even find the humor in—life’s last rite,” said McKnight.

The Peace Palliative Care Society has collaborated with the Peace Valley Funeral Home, Grimshaw Municipal Library, Fairview Municipal Library and Nampa FCSS to host these events.

Together, they hope to positively impact people throughout the Peace Region and shift mindsets around the topic of death.

“The ultimate goal for Death Café is to change attitudes and to be able to have comfortable, open conversations about death,” said McKnight.

With no agenda to follow, no guest speakers and no pamphlets to study, Death Café participants can expect round table introductions that ultimately guide the flow of conversation. The only requirement is people are open to discussing death.

“No subject is off the table. No denominations are represented. People can speak freely in a non-judgmental forum,” said McKnight.

Everyone is welcome to attend a Death Café. According to McKnight, people often leave feeling better than when they arrived.

“To be able to openly discuss personal beliefs and experiences in a non-judgmental setting is very refreshing and cathartic,” said McKnight.

As Death Café gatherings become more frequent, McKnight is excited to see more people get involved and openly talk about something that can be difficult to discuss.

“I’m always so pleased with how engaging the conversations become at each meeting. People are starting to talk about this taboo topic. I’m happy our Death Cafés have been so well received,” said McKnight.

McKnight is grateful for all those who have had a hand in organizing each Café.

“I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all the hosts and participants over the last two years. I’m looking forward to many more in the future,” said McKnight.

Find the 2024-2025 schedule on the Peace Palliative Care Society website and on their Facebook page. Learn more about upcoming Death Cafés at

By Dani Wearden

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