- Associated Press - Friday, May 30, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Question: What awaits us after we draw our last breath?

And: Are there alternatives to burial or cremation?

And: When you’re offered a brownie at the Death Cafe, should you eat it?

All good questions and sure conversation-starters at Death Cafe, which might sound like an artery-clogging greasy spoon but is actually an opportunity to discuss a potentially scary subject, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/1m7lnIV ).

The motto could be “let’s talk about death.”

Death Cafe’s organizers describe the phenomenon as a “group-directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes.” Based on the c afe mortel movement in Switzerland and France, Death Cafe is a “social franchise” started in a Web designer’s basement in England in 2011 and has since crossed the ocean.

Appropriately, in time for Memorial Day weekend, a new Death Cafe just sprouted in Kansas City.

The goal: to help people make the most of their lives, their “finite” lives, by giving them a chance to discuss their mortality - something family and friends often refuse to contemplate.

“Talking about sex won’t cause you to be pregnant, and talking about death won’t cause you to die,” said social worker Megan Mooney, to borrow a line she’s heard other Death Cafe hosts use.

Mooney introduced Missouri’s first Death Cafe in March 2013, in St. Joseph (at Cafe Pony Espresso). The only one in Kansas is in Lawrence and started this year.

The meetups now take place in about 900 locations around the world, typically in coffee shops or restaurants but also homes, churches and, yes, cemeteries.

In Kansas City, the one and only Death Cafe at the moment convenes in a funeral home. Signature Funerals and Cremation is in a strip center on State Line Road near 81st Street, nestled between a Chinese restaurant and a phone store.

Inside, the place has a boutique-y feel, with couches, easy chairs and coffee tables. This Death Cafe’s facilitator, Jill Badell, is a funeral director here. She’s 28. Her parents died when she was young. Then she was adopted.

Between her birth family and her adoptive one, she has seen several grandparents die.

“I went to a lot of funerals growing up,” she said. “I think it was always around me.” Each death made her feel more anxious.

Story Continues →