Co-organizers of the Okanagan Death Cafe, Alison Moore, a life-cycle celebrant and sacred passages doula, Sue Berlie, shamanic coach, death walker and psychopomp, and Claudette Bouchard, end of life doula and life energy coach. (Sydney Morton/Black Press)

Death Café returns to Okanagan

Vernon, Kelowna and Summerland events toast touchy subject

Spring marks the return of death – the discussion of the touchy subject.

The Okanagan Valley Death Cafes return for the third year. Participants in cafes held in past years have asked organizers to offer them monthly, in a quieter place than our local busy community coffee shops. This year the Okanagan Regional Libraries in Kelowna, Vernon and Summerland are making their spaces available on Saturday or Sunday afternoons to host Death Café.

The next cafe takes place at the Vernon library on Sunday, Feb. 24 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

As of the start of 2019, 7,520 Death Cafes have been offered in 63 countries since September 2011. At a Death Cafe, people, often strangers, gather to drink tea or coffee and discuss death. Death Cafes are an opportunity to have an honest and respectful conversation about death. They are a group-directed, confidential discussion of death with no expectations, no agendas and no judgments. A Death Cafe is not a grief support or counseling session.

See: The Okanagan Death Café returns for another season

The Death Cafe model was developed by Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid, based on the ideas of Bernard Crettaz. The aim of the movement is “to increase awareness of death with a view of helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

Underwood maintained that the world would be a better place if people dealt with their fear of dying: “Life and death are interdependent. The best preparation for death is to have a great life. It’s to create an environment where talking about dying and death is natural and comfortable.”

Nowadays, a lack of exposure to death leaves us in denial and ill equipped to deal with one thing that affects us all. As we come to terms with the reality of our own mortality, we are positioned to live life more fully and we are better able to support each other, our families and ourselves when death impacts our lives.

What can death teach us about living? You are invited to join facilitators Celebrant and End of Life Doula Alison Moore, Death Midwife Practitioner Sue Berlie, End of Life Doula Claudette Bouchard and others to find out at a Death Café this spring.

See: Death Cafe helps start the discussion

The Death Cafe recently visited Kelowna and returns to the library there on April 27, 1:30-3:30.

Following Vernon’s visit, the cafe travels to Summerland March 24, same time.

If you miss the first Vernon cafe, or enjoy it enough to return, there will be another cafe at the library May 18.

Donations are accepted to cover expenses.

Sue Berlie is a graduate and ongoing student of the Institute of Shamanic Medicine. She is a Shamanic Practitioner who works with clients individually and in groups, in addition to assisting with shamanic healing circles. Berlie is a former hospice volunteer and, in 2016, completed the Beyond Yonder School for Death Midwifery Core Program as well as the CINDEA home funeral guide workshop. Sue offers support, guidance and information on various aspects of dying and death.

Alison Moore is a Reverend and certified professional Life-Cycle Celebrant and Conscious Dying Institute End of Life Doula. She has been trained as a home funeral guide through CINDEA. Practiced in the creation of personalized ceremonies, Alison officiates celebrations of life for families in their home and through local funeral services. Alison performs seasonal ceremonies at her Ravens View Farm and Retreat Centre in Peachland. She is also past Clerk of Interior British Columbia Quakers and a partner in Oomph! Consulting.

Claudette Bouchard is a Sacred Passage Doula and an End of Life Coach. She brings compassion, empathy, respect and dignity to her work with the dying. Her calm presence eases fear and brings spiritual healing to the dying as she connects with their inner divine spark. With over 30 years experience as an International Life Energy Coach, she helps transcend the challenges of planning for death and brings her unwavering support to the dying experience.


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