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Death Cafe offers a safe space to discuss the inevitable

Talking openly about death helps us lead more meaningful lives, organizers of Death Cafe say.

Being able to release fears into a safe space allows one to accept the inevitable: We are all going to die one day.

A local artist and business owner, Brian Schorn, is bringing this concept to Alpena on Tuesday. It’s an international idea, but it tends to be held in more cosmopolitan areas. Schorn hopes local folks will embrace the idea by attending Northern Michigan Death Cafe, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Studio Rubedo, 213 W. Chisholm St. in downtown Alpena.

“They really only have them in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Lansing, so this is kind of special to have something like this in our area,” Schorn said.

Understanding what Death Cafe is starts by learning what it is not. It is not a grief support group, and it is not a counseling session.

“At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death,” the Death Cafe website states. “Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.'”

“Death Cafes are intended to offer a safe space for confidential, respectful, nonjudgmental, and agenda-free group discussions on the topic of death,” Schorn stated in a news release.

He said the first Death Cafe was held in Great Britain.

“It has made its way to the United States, and there are now Death Cafes throughout the world,” Schorn said. “There are certain parameters that you have to agree to and apply as being an official Death Cafe host. …It has to be a nonjudgmental, open discussion. …It essentially becomes a safe environment for people to say what’s on their mind on the topic of death, in whatever way is important to them.”

Coffee, tea and cake will be provided, and donations will be accepted.

“From my perspective, I see it as a way for them to let go of fears that essentially paralyze us from living more fully,” Schorn said. “It’s just a way to acknowledge the the reality of the issue, and then hopefully live a better life as a result.”

For information, call Schorn at 989-657-9403 or visit deathcafe.com.

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