RP eatery to host Death Cafe
Sessions designed to talk about death in matter-of-fact manner
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By Mira Brody

Death is not talked about comfortably, and Cathleen Springer intends to change that. The Death Café, a concept started in Great Britain and now in more than 700 locations all over the world, is coming to Panera Bread in Rohnert Park.

“Back in my grandparents’ day, death was a common thing,” explains Springer, who will be the café facilitator for the first meeting on April 29. “Childbirth, wars…people realized it, talked about it, lived with it. Loved ones were laid out at home; it was just a part of living.”

As medical research progressed and people became healthier, death was pushed to the wayside. Death is a part of life, and no one should be afraid of it, which is where Death Cafes come into play.

The community is not for bereavement or counseling, however. Discussion at a Death Café meeting is more about coming to terms with the death of oneself. What will become of your remains? Do you want a memorial service? Are you comfortable informing your loved ones of your death preferences? Death Café is the place to talk about it.

Springer has a background in homeopathy and runs NOURISH, a women’s retreat, with her friend Karen Cappa. A client who is a facilitator for the Petaluma café community introduced them to the concept, and Springer was hooked immediately and began searching for a venue to hold one locally.

“I found it honest, and interesting,” Springer says of her experience. “A group of people from ages 40-80 came together to discuss everything that has to do with death – and therefore life – because we’re living with the experience now and its inevitability.”

Petaluma’s café has about two-dozen people a month consisting of both recurring and new faces, and Sebastopol had more than 75 people show once. There seems to be a community desire to speak about a topic not normally brought up in a public setting. Springer hopes to hold one the last Tuesday of every month.

Panera Bread and Mary’s Pizza Shack have both shown interest and support in being venues for Death Cafes, and both FedEx and Springer’s friend Sandy were very supportive in the production of event flyers. Because it is not-for-profit, participation is usually “on faith.”

“I am 67 years old, so it’s a topic for me,” says Springer of her experience. “In my professional work, intimacy and conversation is something that clients benefit from.”

The Death Café and Cathleen Springer invites the public to come to Panera Bread in Rohnert Park at 7 p.m., April 29 to celebrate life by talking about end of life topics in a friendly, comfortable setting.

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