Death Cafe at IUPUI will offer open discussions about life, death and dying

January 28, 2015

Death Cafe artifact

Death Cafee

Death Cafe is coming to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, one where attendees will enjoy light refreshments and participate in frank discussions of life, death and dying in our culture.

 Sponsored by the Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the Death Cafe is free and open to the public. The first cafe will take place Feb. 3. Additional café sessions will take place Feb. 11 and March 5. The two-hour sessions will be held at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd. For more information about the cafes, including times, call 317-274-4702

 Attendance for each of the cafes is limited. Registration is required, and individuals must be at least 18 years old to attend.

 "As a producer of health professionals, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences recognized and appreciated the need for a better understanding of life and death within our culture," said Augustine Agho, dean of the school. "Many of our graduates provide direct patient care and are faced with death and dying on a regular basis. The ability of health care professionals to handle and accept death in a healthy manner is extremely important. These cafes also expose participants to differing perspectives on life and death, and help cultivate respect for other beliefs -- both of which are critical for anyone working in health care."

 “It was a natural choice to work with Dr. Elaine Voci on this project, who is also an SHRS alumna," Agho said. "She has been a strong advocate for our school and understands the significance of acceptance and respect of other perspectives on this sensitive subject. We recognize that a healthy understanding of death is extremely important for our graduates to have as they move into their careers and hope these cafes can open up their perceptions of the subject."

 Voci, who will facilitate the cafe sessions, holds advanced degrees in psychology, rehabilitation science and human resource management. She is also a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who is trained to help individuals acknowledge and adjust to significant experiences in their life such as divorce, retirement, surviving/facing illness, etc.

 Beginning in Europe about five years ago and then spreading to the U.S. and other countries, Death Cafes are designed to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives, Voci said.

 The Death Cafes are not, however, support groups for people who are actively grieving or in end-of-life planning sessions, Voci said. 

 Certain principles are followed at the cafes, Voci said. Among them is the facilitator guides discussions but does not attempt to lead participants to conclusions about death or the afterlife, and all views are respected.

 "Death Cafes are inspiring and thought-provoking. We want people to feel comfortable, open up and share their thoughts," Voci said.