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Death Cafes Come To Tallahassee


Story by: James Buechele
2-20-14

Smiling.

Laughing.

These people aren't talking about movies or sports. They're talking about death.

"Death is a part of life," says Sandy Halperin, 63, from Tallahassee.

Halperin was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease three years ago. In fact, during our interview, some of his symptoms began showing.

For the last two months, Sandy's been attending Death Cafes run by Big Bend Hospice. This is a fairly new concept for the hospice but it has been wildly successful in parts of Europe.

"I've learned so much from the others even tonight being here. Hearing their thoughts about their life."

Gini West of Big Bend Hospice helped start the first Death Cafe here in Tallahassee.

"You tend to talk about how you live and it really brings more meaning to 'what do I want tomorrow to be like?'" said West.

"Once you're here, the subject is no longer taboo, said Halperin. "It stops. It's over because it almost becomes as if you're talking about the movie you saw last month."

Sandy brought his wife, Gail, to this Death Cafe. She's been going through chemo after being diagnosed with cancer. She didn't want to do an interview, however, Sandy may have summed up their relationship best.

"I would want to live my whole life over with her again."

These Death Cafes not only help talk about a subject many of us stay away from but it also looks at what we can do when we're no longer able to help ourselves.

"Coming here has given me more of that peace of understanding about death."

The next Death Cafe will be held Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Eastwood Cafe.
1605 East Plaza Drive Suite 101.

What do you think about talking death in a relaxed atmosphere like a cafe? Leave your comment below in the story.


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