Let’s Talk about Death!

From Your Co-minister—Rev. Barbara W. ten Hove

On Tuesday, April 21, a couple dozen of us gathered in the Cedars Center to do something pretty radical: talk about death with no agenda and a large chocolate cake. We were experiencing a “Death Café” (www.deathcafe.org), part of an international movement that invites people to gather over good food and talk about death, dying, the afterlife (or lack thereof), dead bodies, funeral rituals, grief, etc. We had a surprisingly good time. And it clearly touched a nerve in our Cedars community.

I have to admit I was not entirely shocked. When I took part in a Death Café last fall (among my UU colleagues), I felt its power immediately. How wonderful to just talk about this usually taboo topic with people who were willing to listen and learn from each other! I knew I wanted to bring this to Cedars and am so glad I did (with support from the Pastoral Care Team).

Not only did we talk about it with a very large group at Cedars Center, but many of the folks who were there almost immediately committed to talking further among themselves. Thanks to Richard Dorrell for leading these ongoing conversations made up of people from the first Death Cafe!

There will be another Death Café at Cedars this summer sometime in August for those of you interested but unable to attend the first one. I’ll do it on an evening instead of during the day, but it will once again include cake! Date and time will be announced soon.

Also this summer I’ll be bringing back a sermon I wrote a few years ago (“Why Die? The Quest for Immortality”) that addresses this topic head on. When I preached it in 2012, I heard from many of you that it would be helpful to hear it again, which will happen in August (updated of course).

My mother has often said that death is something we humans should be better at; after all, it happens to everyone. But, as she also says, “it’s so damn final!” Yes, and it’s also the price we pay for this glorious thing called life. I look forward to continuing the conversation. After all, what better place is there to talk about death than in a supportive congregation?

All the best, Rev. Barbara