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TCS Does Death Cafe in Sydney

Members of The Celebrant Society meet in Newtown for Death Cafe

It's time we talk about death and dying (we promise it isn't scary)

“Have you heard about Death Cafe? I’ve recently started them and I think they’d be amazing for The Celebrant Society.” When Lillian Lyon posed this question to me over a catch-up coffee one Sunday I was immediately intrigued.

I’d vaguely heard about it in the media over the past few years. Death Cafe, originally founded in the UK in 2011, is now a worldwide movement that aims to create a safe and informal space for people to discuss death and dying. They aren’t counselling sessions, but intimate community gatherings that provide an opportunity for open, respectful conversations about the end of life. There’s no set agenda beyond an aim to reduce the stigma around death-related discussions.

Lillian, who has been working in funerals for nearly two decades, had recently trained as a Death Cafe facilitator and had been holding events within her local community. As celebrants, we often get a different insight into the experience of death than the general population. Even if we only work at weddings, by being part of big life events, we are often reflecting on the loved ones who aren’t there to join in on the celebration.

So on one drizzly Sunday in May, six TCS members grabbed a beer at the Botany View Hotel in Newtown and trundled up to a cosy lounge area to share our own experiences with end-of-life.

“I think we need to normalise conversations around death,” said participant Jo Booth “Whether it’s approaching or you’re grieving, or if you’re planning a funeral or you know one is coming. I think the more we talk about it, the better it will be.”

Fellow celebrant Sandie Barnes agreed, “Hopefully we can get out there in our communities and help people understand that it’s not this dark, scary thing. It’s something we can celebrate.”

After such a successful first event, we are so excited to host more TCS-led Death Cafe events in the near future. “We are literally dipping just our little toe in the tiniest bit of water right now,” said Lillian. “There is a lot to say!”.

Big thanks to Lillian Lyon, Jo Booth, Benedict Ager, Sandie Barnes and Angela Lau for attending this first event. Check out the full video below to find out more about how the event went. And keep an eye out on the TCS Facebook events page for future Death Cafe meetings.

For more information about Death Cafe, visit:

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Author Bio

Alison Pickel

Alison is a big nerd and she’s not afraid to admit it. When she’s not getting overly excited by s45(2) of the Marriage Act (how cool is it that it’s the couple’s words that actually make them married?!), she can be found puzzling in escape rooms or smashing the movie round for her pub trivia team.

Hailing from Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West, Alison has a background in print and digital media. In 2018, she swapped deadlines for ‘I do’s, and has been hitching loved-up legends ever since. She is also a celebrant trainer, ceremony ghostwriter and the NSW Local Leader for The Celebrant Society.

Away from the arbour, Alison likes to eat dumplings, re-watch Schitt’s Creek (again), and take way too many photos of her rescue cats, Pancake and Barney.

TCS Does Death Cafe in Sydney