So sad to hear of the death of Jon Underwood who started the ball rolling for Death Cafe movement in the UK.
Jon got the idea from Bernard Crettaz who ran his version ‘Cafe Mortel’ in Laussanne, Switzerland. A similar idea was happening in NYC too.
It was 2012 when I met Jon, running a Death Cafe at the Joy of Death Festival in Bournemouth. This followed the Six Feet Under fest and was the precursor to the Good Funeral Awards, when founder Brian Jenner teamed up with the inimitable Charles Cowling of the Good Funeral Guide to light the touchpaper of the death movement. Jon was very much part of that and Final Fling – like so many other individuals, charities and groups – grasped the idea keenly… a simple-to-implement, easy-to-access activity that caught on like wild fire.
Jon shared a model and we followed. At Final Fling, we’re expanded and extended the model too and in fact just recently relaunched our events as Death Meet-Ups because we often do more than ‘holding the space’ which is the Death Cafe’s no-agenda approach.
It’s so tragic to read of Jon’s early departure and the young family he has left behind. What a proud legacy though. Having trademarked the Death Cafe brand in the UK and US, his legacy will live on.
Fran Hall of the Good Funeral Guide contacted us to encourage everyone to donate to help Jon’s young family through a terrible loss. If you’ve ever been to or held a Death Cafe – or just admire what Jon has done – please go to the crowdfunding page and donate whatever you can afford.
Read this tribute from Jon’s friend Mark.
And a lovely one from the team behind Life. Death. Whatever.