There's a special sort of café on the increase; one where you can eat the usual tea and cake and chat about death and dying.
But morbidity is not the intention. Far from it.
These not-for-profit discussions are a forum where people – often strangers – can contemplate mortality and their experiences of it.
Thousands of Death Cafés have popped up – in people’s houses, coffee shops, cemeteries, yurts and even the Royal Festival Hall in London.
And it all started with a Chester mum and son.
Former Queen’s Park High student Jon Underwood decided to develop a series of projects about death some six years ago, one of which was to focus on talking about death.
Inspired by the work of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz, who held discussions in local cafés about death and dying, Death Café was born.
Jon held the inaugural meeting at his home in East London in 2011, recruiting his mum and psychotherapist Sue Barsky Reid as facilitator.
How does it work?
Sue, who lives in Curzon Park with her husband Alistair Reid, explained: “It was apparent even from the first Death Café that people wanted to talk about death.
“Our model gives participants the power to say what they need to about the topic, there is no agenda.
“Ideally, the facilitator creates a space where attendees feel safe and supported, which gives them the freedom to explore and choose the topics related to death and dying that interest them.”
But Death Cafés are not to be confused with grief support groups or counselling sessions.
“There is no intended outcome and we recommend that they are not for the newly bereaved,” Sue added.
“Many people find this a difficult topic and do not want to contemplate death. This is fine. Death Café is a voluntary activity.”
Death Café is a social franchise, so anyone who signs up to the online guide Sue and Jon have produced on how to host one can do just that.
Is there one in Chester?
Sue believes the movement has had a global reach, with more than 3,200 such cafés held in 35 countries.
At least four have already been held in Chester, and Sue intends to hold one at Atina Kitchen on Foregate Street on June 25 at 3.30pm.
She asks that anyone wishing to attend contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Death, as a topic, is a conversation most of us aren’t rushing to have.
But, as Jon says, the goal of Death Cafés is to ‘increase an awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
Death, as they say, comes to us all so maybe it’s time we stop treating it as such as a taboo and finally talk about it.
For more information about Death Café, click here .