TRINITY – It may sound a bit morbid at first blush, but Thursday’s inaugural Death Café Trinity event will be far from it.
The 7 p.m. gathering at Heartwood Preserve’s Welcome Center, 4100 Starkey Blvd., is intended to give guests a place to freely and openly discuss end-of-life matters that may be difficult to broach in other settings.
“It’s basically an opportunity for people to get together and talk about what is kind of taboo for a lot of people, which is death,” said Laura Starkey, executive director of Heartwood Preserve, a natural cemetery within a 41-acre conservation sanctuary.
The concept comes to the Trinity area via a friend of Starkey’s. Cat Martin is the host of Death Café Tampa events, in Ybor City, and encouraged Starkey and Heartwood Preserve’s manager, Diana Sayegh, to consider organizing gatherings in West Pasco.
Sayegh said Thursday’s night’s event was scheduled after the Death Café idea generated enough positive local comments and interest.
Death Café’s origins stretch far beyond the Suncoast, however. Death Café was created in 2011 by Jon Underwood, a London man who died June 27 at the age of 44 of acute promyelocytic leukemia, a form of blood cell cancer. Underwood held the first gatherings at his home in the London borough of Hackney.
Word of those initial get-togethers spread throughout the United Kingdom, then around the globe. The official website, www.deathcafe.com, states that well over 5,000 Death Cafes have taken place in 51 countries. News organizations including The New York Times, NPR and USA Today have all documented the grassroots initiative and its worldwide growth.
Guests attending Thursday’s inaugural Death Café Trinity will be able to gather and speak with others about all aspects of death in a nonjudgmental, open fashion, according to the event’s posting on MeetUp.com. As is the case with all Death Cafes, the discussion includes no preconceived agendas, objectives or themes. Topics can range from personal stories to grief, rituals, aging, advice and humor, and there is no obligation to speak. Guests wishing to sit back and enjoy coffee, tea and cake while listening to others are welcome.
While the first Death Café Trinity will be held at Heartwood Preserve, Starkey said she is exploring other options around New Port Richey for future monthly gatherings.
Guests interested in attending Thursday’s event are asked to RSVP by calling 727-376-5111.