Welcoming Death to Walk By My Side

Conversations started at the Death Cafe

Cindy Heath
Age of Empathy

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AI created image of a wise elder woman. In one hand she holds a lantern, the other a book. A raven is on her arm, a wolf, a spruce tree, & a wild rose are in the front. The background is a star-filled sky over an image of the Earth.
The author’s imaginary friend, Gaia, created with help from DALL-E and canva.com

This month, I made two new friends. This might seem unremarkable, except one is an imaginary friend. And no, I’m not too old for imaginary friends.

In a light-filled room overlooking the Salish Sea, I was enjoying chamomile tea with Claudia, a local artist I had just interviewed. Her striped cat sat on the counter watching a hummingbird in the garden. Suddenly, my watch beeped a notice at me, and I exclaimed, “I need to leave, or I’ll miss my meeting at the Death Cafe!”

Startled, my new friend asked a logical question, “What on earth is a Death Cafe?”

“Oh, it’s a place to enjoy dessert while discussing anything to do with death and dying. I’ve been going for about a year, and I’ve met the nicest people. I’ll tell you more next time we visit,” I promised as I hurried to my car.

I started thinking more about death three years ago when my best friend of more than forty years was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t know how to support my friend in her illness, especially when the doctor referred her to palliative care and then hospice. My friend refused to admit she was dying, and I felt so helpless, especially as I was 2,000 miles away.

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Cindy Heath
Age of Empathy

I’ve been a farmer, entrepreneur, writer, and more. I'm passionate about nutrition, health, nature, and the rewards of personal writing.