JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami) – Death has long been considered a topic best kept out of polite conversation. But in a world where more than 17 million people have contracted coronavirus and more than half a million have died, questions surrounding mortality are becoming unavoidable.
From her home in Jacksonville, Florida, Nada Frazier recently hosted what’s known as a Death Cafe, an opportunity for strangers to freely talk about mortality.
Dying without friends and family nearby has become common during COVID.
In Frazier’s Death Cafe, where many of the participants live in hard-hit Florida, it was top of mind.
Participant Zac Addison told the group he believed he contracted the coronavirus. Afterward, his COVID-19 test came back positive.
“It has raised anxiety. You know, if I were to die, I wouldn’t want my spouse to be alone,” he said.
Death Cafes began in the UK and were mostly in-person events with cake and tea. But the pandemic has moved them online, allowing groups to go global.
Frazier’s Cafe had participants from Australia, Canada, and Hungary.
Death Cafe’s co-founder Susan Barsky Reid says interest is growing.
“I think it has brought death into people’s awareness much more,” she says.
Death and grieving expert David Kessler feels Death Cafes give people a chance to share their deepest fears.
He says, “It’s peer support, where people are talking to one another and supporting each other.”
Tyrone Schmidt found Death Cafe after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I found it very warm and helpful, just sharing and being really, this is as deep as it gets,” he says.
He hopes continuing to share his fears about death will help make the most of the time he has left.
You can find the schedule for online and in-person Death Cafes at DeathCafe.com.