On Nov. 1, Lara McIntyre wants people to eat cake. And talk about death.
“There’s a lot of things in society that can get in the way of us living,” she said. “Death is one that I thought I’d tackle.”
Sitting at a table in the George Mackie Library, McIntyre doesn’t look like someone who’d be excited to talk about death, with her bright clothes and and sunny demeanour. But for her, it’s something that’s important for people to discuss.
“It seemed like a good idea to have a space for people to have these discussions, that it’s okay to talk about it,” she continued. “Get it out in the open, so that life can be more fulfilling.”
That’s why, between September and January, McIntyre is holding six different Death Cafés at various Fraser Valley Regional libraries, open forums for people to discuss death and what it means to them. There’s no agenda, and no set discussion topics.
In fact, the only guarantee is there will be cake: it’s mandated at every Death Café, part of the social franchise that started in the United Kingdom.
McIntyre first discovered Death Cafés in November 2016, when she was a student in the counselling program at Rhodes Wellness College in Vancouver.
At the time, McIntyre was unsure whether she would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer (she wasn’t) and was still coping the death of her sister nearly five years earlier.
Her sister passed away at age 51 from complications due to multiple sclerosis. She died in hospice, and McIntyre said “it was lovely.
“I mean, it was very sad, but it was beautiful too.”
“It was really interesting watching other people’s grief and seeing them experience a different facet of it,” she continued. “And I realized it’s just not something that, in my culture, is really talked about, unless maybe you’re at a funeral or something.”
That’s why she decided to host her own Death Café.
The first one was held at the Ladner Pioneer Library on Sept. 11.
“It was lovely,” she said, then sighed. “It was so inclusive.”
Only a handful of people came, she said, and they ranged in age from 20 to 90 years old. Some were dealing with active grief, while others were preparing to die. The prevailing theme was that the people in the attendees’ lives were ready for them to stop talking about death, but they weren’t, McIntyre said.
McIntyre will be hosting five more Death Cafés: Oct. 23 at the White Rock Library, Nov. 1 at the George Mackie Library, Nov. 20 at the Ladner Pioneer Library, Dec. 4 at the White Rock Library and Jan. 17 at the George Mackie Library. All start at 6:45 p.m.
“I’m excited about the one here [in North Delta], I hope we get lots of people,” McIntyre said. “But even if one person shows up, that’s what it’s supposed to be.”