How Death Cafes Are Like Pancakes Soaked In Maple Syrup

There’s So Much Living In Dying

Rhyena Halpern
Crow’s Feet


Photo Credit: Unsplash

Once your soul is soaked through with the reality that your days left are few, you are altered.

It's like a plate with a heaping pile of wildly shaped pancakes submerged in copious amounts of maple syrup, proudly poured by your child, one sweet Mother’s Day long ago.

You are doused with the reality. Soaked. Drenched. Immersed. Thoroughly.

And so you, as the engorged sponge of life, finally can safely entertain the image of meeting death in your mind’s eye.

In a safe space with other like-minded souls doing the same work, softening into the inevitability of death is a sacred act.

I get to experience this deluge of pure maple syrup-like sweetness almost every week.

As an end-of-life doula and death and dying educator, I host Death Cafes for two organizations, the Elisabeth Kubler Ross Foundation and Mission Hospice, most weeks starting before the pandemic.

A Death Cafe is a safe and supportive space for talking about death and dying without any beliefs, promotions, or agendas. Just a safe space.

It was started in 2011 by Jon Underwood in London and you can learn way more about it by going to and perusing the site. Attendance is free with Eventbrite registration.

I get fed by the way people show up in these Death Cafes with such open hearts. They talk about their pain, their fears, their loss, and their inevitable demise. Some believe death is a transition; some feel it is the end. I feel nurtured and held and safe like when my daughters fed me those sweetly soaked pancakes in bed.

Death Cafes are always ‘comfy’ as one participant said the other day. Because it's a safe space free of any taboos or judgments.

There is so much living in dying! There is wrestling with the past; amazing acts of generosity, the gift of forgiveness, and the profundity of receiving and giving love. Bold mental preparation followed by brave communication adorns the days. Acceptance and letting go as death approaches. Humor and helpfulness.

One thing for sure is that doing this for four years has made me less afraid of death. And way more aware of living fully. So sweet!

In addition to facilitating Death Cafes and study groups, I also teach classes like ‘Spiritual Dimensions of Nearing Death’ and ‘End of Life Intentions for Dummies, Pragmatists and Seekers’. Feel free to email me at .



Rhyena Halpern
Crow’s Feet

End of Life Doula who loves to write on Death & Dying, Third Act/Retirement, Wellness, Healing & Trauma, Sexuality/Romance/Aging.