Carole Spice gets mixed reactions when she tells people she co-facilitates Tauranga Death Cafe.

'''Why would you want to do that? I would never go to something like that', they say,'' Carole said. ''But then we spend a few hours talking about dying and death.

''And talking about dying and death won't kill you,'' she said.

Death Cafe is a global movement where people meet socially to talk about aspects of dying and death.


It's a fascinating, varied subject. The topics are wide and Tauranga Death Cafe members are often surprised at the diversity of the conversations.

''Each time is different, dependent on who comes along on the day,'' Carole said.

''For two hours we talk openly about life, dying, death and everything in between. I believe life and death are intimate partners, as natural and intrinsic as the flow of the seasons, to die well is firstly to live well.''

Death Cafe is not a bereavement group, Carole said, although sometimes they share grief.

''We leave Death Cafe enriched, amazed and brimming with life.''

Topics that come up may include the afterlife or what happens at the time of death, what happens to our bodies as we die, euthanasia, burials including natural burial, fear of death and people's experiences.

''It's not grim or morbid. Nobody who comes to Death Cafe has an unnatural fascination in death. There are some real heartfelt moments here.''

Most Death Cafe members are inspired by the fact that no one knows how long they have and appreciate their life, making the most of every day, she says.


The Death Cafe model was developed by founder Jon Underwood and Sue Barsky Reid, based on the ideas of Swiss sociologist Bernard Crettaz.

Carole, who started the local group in 2016 with Grace McGregor, is an interfaith minister.

She's worked as a funeral and marriage celebrant — and always held an interest in what happens when we die. She believes life and death walk hand in hand. But her interest also has an environmental concern.

''We only have so much time on this earth. Relating to environmental problems such as extinction of animals and pollution etc, my personal view is we are acting as if life is limitless.

''Because we are taking death out of our conversations there is no awareness that there's an end.''

Carole facilitates the meetings every six weeks with Bronwyn Annand. Youngest attendees are aged 20, the oldest is 96 and the group has 168 members. About 15 visitors usually attend the meetings.

The two are starting a new group in Waihi in September.

● Tauranga Death Cafe meets every six weeks on Saturday at Grindz Cafe at 1pm. The next get-together will be on August 18 and new people are welcome to come along. Phone Carole on 022 068 9183 for more information.