Tea and hope on the menu for Leeds Death Cafe

It may not sound like somewhere you’d want to go  – a Death Cafe.  But for many bereaved people, it can be a huge source of comfort. 

By Sam Clements

The Death Cafe is an international movement where people can have discussions about death with no objectives or agenda. So it’s not a counselling session – just a place where people can talk freely about the most taboo of subjects.

The registered charity, Leeds Bereavement Forum, hosted their last Death Cafe event of the year yesterday in the Tiled Hall Cafe in Leeds Central Library. It was the last of 11 different Leeds locations for the Death Cafe.

Photo of a Death Cafe meeting in progress.

A woman attended thinking it was a ‘deaf’ cafe’ but joined in anyway when she realised what it was.

Dying Matters

The first two Death Cafes in Leeds were held in 2013 before being held annually until 2016, when four events were held in different community venues across the city to celebrate Dying Matters Week.

In 2017 Leeds Bereavement Forum started working in partnership with Leeds Libraries and have held Death Cafes approximately every month since.

“Very powerful”

Kayleigh Garner, 43, lost her mother in June 2017 and benefited from the support of the Death Cafe events. She said: “I think the Death Cafe is a really powerful thing – that you know, total strangers are able to confide in each other and talk about a thing we’ve not spoke about to anyone else.

“I think it’s easier to talk about things with someone I didn’t know.”

Library venues

The organisation currently has three part-time staff. Jane Robinson, a manager at Leeds Bereavement Forum, said: “We have a very small team so we need to ensure we have enough capacity to facilitate the Death Cafes.

“We have found if a library understands what a Death Cafe is and is confident in promoting it to their customers, then numbers of attendees are normally higher.

“We have held 14 Death Cafes this year. Numbers of participants for individual Death Cafes have varied between one and fourteen over 2018, with a total of 82 participants altogether.”

Montage of staff and participants at Death Cafe events

Leeds Death Cafes have been running for five years

Leeds Bereavement forum will shortly be announcing the dates for Death Cafes in 2019. The charity will again be working with Leeds Libraries and aims to hold Death Cafes monthly next year.




About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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