Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Should talking about death be so much fun?

Serious conversation about “death” is considered by many Americans to be morbid, even taboo. So why did 40-some people gather together to have a good time talking about the topic?

All photos by Viet Le

April 26 CIC partnered with Indiana Pagan Community Outreach and Dialogue to host a Death Café at the Indiana Interchurch Center. More than forty people came… why? It was a rare opportunity to break the taboo and have a serious conversation. With strangers (at least before the conversation). Without judgment. With cookies and a lot of laughter.

Of course there was a skull cake made by organizer Vanessa Mize’s daughter. Every Death Café the skull cakes get tastier… Vanessa Mize’s daughter may be using organic skull these days. (Just kidding.)

Even before the start of the Café it’s a chance for friends who haven’t seen each other since the October Death Café to renew their connections.

There’s a chance people can be more honest talking about death with relative strangers than with their own families. Bartenders know how that works. It does mean people who come out of a Death Café are different than the people they were when they came to the Interchurch Center a couple of hours before.


This Death Café marked a step ahead: wonderful prizes were raffled off. First prize was a skull cake. Second prize was a tee-shirt saying: “Being cremated is my last chance for a smoking hot body.” Susan came from Ohio, just for this discussion.

The tee-shirt was donated by Susan. Hers is an interesting and important story:

I was at your Death Cafe maybe last year? It was one of the best I’ve ever attended. I’m coming from Ohio and I really hope I’m able to go. I have a kind of odd gift that I hope might be appropriate. I wondered if this group might be perfect for it and maybe, as a host, you might offer it as a ….surprise or prize or something.

It’s a brand new t-shirt that says something about “Cremation Might Be My Only Chance for Smoking Hot Body.” It was given to me right at the time I was changing my mind from cremation to green burial. It’s a brand new shirt and it feels it should go to something more appropriate than Goodwill where it will simply get lost in the stacks.

I was going to bring it with me. You would be welcome to have it, use it, donate it, gift it, whatever you would like. How does that sound?

Meanwhile, I’m a 3 hour drive and I’ll be leaving Ohio tomorrow. I really hope all goes well on my end and I make it.

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