Does sitting around talking about death over coffee and cake with a bunch of strangers sound a little macabre? It turns out that some Coloradans are doing just that at gatherings known as death cafes. 
 
Death cafes are open to everyone and any topic that has to do with death is fair game. Topics range from funeral planning and documentation to discussions about what happens when you die. The idea started in East London a few years ago and has since spread around the world.  
 

Anita Larson organizes and hosts death cafes in Denver.

(Photo: Courtesy of Anita Larson)
Anita Larson held the first death cafe in Denver last September and has hosted them monthly ever since. Larson says all kinds of people participate in death cafes, ranging from hospice workers, funeral directors and doctors to lay people who have questions about death and dying. 
 
The conversations are non-denominational. People come for different and personal reasons, but often it's because they feel like they don't have anyone else to talk to about these issues. Larson says even professionals say they have no one to talk with about death. 
 

People talk about topics surround death and dying during a death cafe held at Heflebower Funeral Services in Highlands Ranch.

(Photo: Courtesy of Anita Larson)
Larson notes that humor and laughter is often part of the conversation. She cautions that these are not grief counseling sessions and discourages people who have just lost a loved one from coming. Participants at the Denver death cafes have ranged in age from 18 to 90-plus. Children are not allowed to participate.
 
Death cafes are slated later in May in Denver and Evergreen. Death cafes have also been held in Colorado Springs, Cherry Creek and Boulder.