Mancos has joined thousands of other cities around the world as it begins hosting a regular event known as a Death Cafe.
The event is hosted by the Mancos Public Library and facilitated by the library’s manager of development and adult programming, Shari Dunn.
The event is part of an international movement to normalize conversations about death and directly address people’s fears regarding dying.
Dunn says she was inspired by the Peregrine Book Co. in Prescott, Arizona, which hosts its own Death Cafe events and wanted to bring a similar event to Mancos.
“I am so concerned about how people have become fearful of death,” Dunn told The Journal during a phone interview.
Dunn says that the point of the conversational events is not to discuss merely the logistics of death, but people’s attitudes toward it. She wants to see people get past the fear of death “so we can live our lives more fully.”
Mancos’ first Death Cafe was held on Oct. 17. Dunn says about a dozen people showed up, most of them older. She says she hopes to see more young people come to the next event, which will be 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, in the Mancos Public Library.
Dunn says the only requirement for attending an event is to bring food and or drink to share with the group. The purpose, she said, is to “engender fellowship” and to create a more comfortable environment as the group discusses a taboo topic together.
More on the Death Cafe organizationAccording to its official website, the Death Cafe organization and “model” were developed in England by founder Jon Underwood and UK-based psychotherapist Sue Barsky Reid. They derived their ideas from those of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz.
Since Underwood began his work on Death Cafes in 2011, at least 7,000 have been held in more than 50 countries. Underwood died in 2017 after a battle with cancer, at which point Underwood’s wife and sister began running the Death Cafe organization on a voluntary basis alongside Reid.