Dr. Jennifer Sasser, human sciences chair and gerontology program director, is one of several experts who will lead Oregon Humanities' Talking About Dying Series starting in September 2015.
Interdisciplinary studies student Emily Lemons assisted in organizing a Death Café in December 2013, an event designed to create a safe atmosphere to discuss a culturally forbidden topic.
Excerpt from an article by Cliff Newell in the Portland Tribune, December 5, 2013.
Death Café was held at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center on December 8, 2013. The title is intimidating. It sounds like the latest horror movie to hit town. But this Death Café will enlighten you and comfort you. All of the questions you wanted to ask about death but were afraid to ask will finally be answered. Melissa Coe of Lake Oswego served as the guiding light for the event.
"The premise of Death Café is to provide a safe environment to sit down in a relaxed atmosphere in which it is easy to share," Coe said. "The ACC is a vital place that has many intelligent people. They can finally find the relief they need in talking about death."
The event could almost be called "Death Party." Folks will be sitting down at a table together, eating cake and drinking coffee, tea and lemonade.
But the main item on the Death Café menu is talk.
"The conversation will get deep and also irreverent," Coe said. "People can explore, question and talk without being censored. They won't be told how to think."
Holly Pruett, who has organized several Death Cafés, directed the event in Lake Oswego. Assisting Adrian and Coe were ACC members Norma Heyser, Mary Lansing and Marylhurst University student Emily Lemons, who is 27 years old. Death Café has no barriers, including the ages of people who attend.
"We've had people as young as 18 attend a Death Café," Coe said.