Chorlton’s Tea Hive hosts ‘death cafe’ where people come to talk about the end of life over coffee and cake

  • Tea Hive hosts death cafe to encourage open discussion about death 
  • First Death Café was launched in 2011 and quickly spread globally 
  • 'People come to get answers to their questions'

A popular café in Chorlton hosts regular death cafes in which people meet up over coffee and cake to talk openly about death.

Once every other month staff at the Tea Hive on Manchester Road shut the café to the public and groups of strangers gather to discuss anything and everything to do with death. 

The Death Café concept was developed in the UK by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid.  The first Death Café was held in in east London in 2011.

Since then, the idea has spread across the globe and there now a total of cafes 13,788 across 81 countries worldwide. There are 2,743 death cafes listed for the UK alone. 

The official website states: “A Death Café is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes.”

On the Death Cafés website, they state that their objective is;

to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives

Organisers says the café is not a place for judgement and says there are trained professionals at meetings. 

Debbie Jones, organiser of the Death Café in Chorlton, said: “It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.

“I’ve been doing it since 2017. We’ve built up a regular community but there are always new people that come.

“I would just love it if we had death cafes as a matter of course in our culture.

“People think it’s going to be really gloomy and grim and it it’s kind of the opposite.

“It is really interesting, there’s a lot of laughter that goes on and I don’t think any of its nervous laughter. Actually, you know, people come and share stories”

While the country was on lockdown because of the pandemic, Debbie hosted Death Cafe sessions over Zoom meetings.

However, the meetings lacked the intimacy of meeting in person.

Death and bereavement are often taboo topics among family and friends, and organisers says this is why the café are so popular.

They say it is a safe space for people to get  questions answered, with no conversation off the table. For an hour people can sit with a group of strangers and death with no fear of judgement.

Debbie believes this is the easiest way to get people to open up. She says meetings attract a wide variety of people. 

 The Chorlton Death Cafe has its own Facebook page.

“The Tea Hive and its staff are always such kind hosts for us for the evenings,” said Debbie.