In the past year, I had intended on opening my Death Cafe, but it seemed like life got in the way. More importantly, I have spent more time with my elderly parents: elder care, doctor appointments, hospital stays, moving to personal care home, death of my mother in July, and death of my father in November. It’s been a difficult year.

But it’s been an experience that many of you have already gone through. Now we can relate to each other even more.

The idea of a Death Cafe has intrigued me since I first read about it a couple of years ago. So I will open my first one in January 2015.

What is a Death Cafe?

At a Death Cafe, we gather to eat snacks, drink coffee or tea and discuss death. This is not a grief support group; it’s a discussion group about death.

The objective is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their lives. This objective is straight off the website:

As per the website’s mandate for Death Cafes, mine will also be offered on a not-for-profit basis (no cost to attend); in an accessible, respectful, and confidential space (my office); with no intention of leading people to any conclusion, product or course of action (not seeking any business; no obligation use any of my services; won’t “try to sell you something”).

And I’ll provide free beverages and free cake or other snack.

Also from the website: Death Cafe is now an established “social franchise” that has spread quickly across the globe. To date there have been more than 500 Death Cafes with over 3,000 participants in Europe, North America, and Australia.

Death Cafes are for people who are ready to talk about death comfortably and openly.

What do people talk about? Whatever they want.

Here’s what some topics have been: funeral planning, end of life decisions, Wills, beneficiaries, moving to retirement home, conversations with the children (talk about your legacy), doctor assisted suicide, death of a pet, cremation, living wills, health directives, probate fees, and more.

My very first one I have scheduled for Thursday January 22 from 10:00 to 11:00am at my office. Please call or email me to confirm your attendance so I have the right about of seats and snacks (and will limit it to no more than 12 to ensure open and comfortable conversation). The next one will be February 19. I’ll pause for March and April and restart again in May.

I hope this will be an enlightening time with my clients and some of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting. If you are ready to openly talk about your plans for your own death and other topics, consider attending.

Anni Markmann is a tax professional working, living, and volunteering in our community. Contact Annir at 204-422-6631 or or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne.