Kettle Valley Memorial

Penticton Death Café

As scary as the thought may be… we are all going to die. So, why not break down those walls and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

At a Death Café people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.

Since September 2019, we have been hosting a local Death Café on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30pm. The meetings typically last 1.5-2 hours depending on the energy and genuine conversation flowing. We get all walks of life attending our meetings – from nurses, to students, the young and elderly. Although the backgrounds and age groups differ greatly, we all have one thing in common – the curiosity and questions surrounding the topic of death and dying.

Death Café was created by Jon Underwood in the UK in 2011 and has since spread like wildfire across the world. It’s a “social franchise” with a group directed discussion about death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session with the aim of educating and helping others become more familiar with the end of life. Being open with dialogue and questions is a movement that is gaining momentum. We are amazed at the interest we’ve received so far, and hope we can help more people in our community!

I first heard about Death Café a few years ago and the concept really didn’t get a response out of me. Fast forward to 2019, I am at home and my colleague Erin calls me and says “Are you aware there is a Death Café in Kelowna tonight? We should check it out!” At the time, we were about 4 months into running Kettle Valley Memorial so this time, the idea really piqued my interest! Off we went to Kelowna to see what it was all about. Kelowna’s Death Café was held at the Library by 2 wonderful ladies. Jo-Anne and Sherii have since become good friends. We were so inspired by the people and conversations that we decided then and there to start hosting a Death Café in Penticton. After registering our event with we built a Facebook page to create awareness and invited anyone who might be interested. Our first meeting was held on September 4, 2019 and we had 17 attendees. A great turnout! We’ve since hosted 9 meetings with the last one moving into the virtual world via Zoom due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

One of the most important parts of the Death Café (in my opinion) is the hot drinks and delicious treats that we serve! Traditionally, tea and cake are served but we’ve found the love of coffee and Nanaimo Squares at our meetings cannot be denied!

Each time I come away from the Death Café, I am captivated with the stories told, the emotions shared, and the connections made. Although the Death Café isn’t a grief counselling group or therapy session it does create genuine connections with others. If you haven’t been to a Death Café, but are curious we highly recommend attending one. You don’t have to speak unless you’d like to. There is no agenda or pressure on anyone to share more than what they’re comfortable with. We’ve found that those who admit that they are there to listen and observe, end up being the ones who share the most meaningful stories. There is no charge to attend and no need to register – just show up!

Ask your questions and share some laughs! Some of the topics we’ve discussed are:

We hope to see you at our next Death Café. If you don’t live in Penticton, here’s a link to help find the next meeting in your city

For more information about the next Penticton event follow us on:

A few more resources:

Here is a favorite Death Café quote: “I talked about death at the Death Café and I didn’t die!”