He's running the Death Cafe at Memorial Hall Library, but Richard Davis by no means is a gloom-and-doom kind of guy.

Rather, Davis, 70, of Andover smiles and laughs a lot and sings the "Macarena" on his answering machine. He describes his interest in the Death Cafe program simply "as a venture through which he hopes to educate and help others become more familiar with the end of life." 

A Death Cafe get-together is organized for the purpose of talking about death over food and drink. The idea originates with a Swiss sociologist and anthropologist. Death Cafes are now held in several countries.

It's not a support group for grieving, Davis said, but rather a platform for the living to talk about their own death.

"A Death Cafe seeks to provide an unscripted, nonjudgmental platform for those wishing to explore the many facets of this often taboo subject," said Davis, who is preparing for his 15th program to be held Wednesdsay, Aug. 14. "People come with an open mind, a healthy curiosity, and a willingness to share their thoughts and feelings."

The August program includes socializing and refreshments at 6:30 p.m. The event begins at 7.

Davis also held Death Cafe programs at other public libraries, including Reading, Cambridge and Sudbury. He has been volunteering in the program since February of 2016.

Davis said Andover's crowd typically represents people from various religions and backgrounds.  Anywhere from two dozen to 40-plus people typically attend.

Funerals, wills, and end of life topics get talked about. But there's laughter, too, he said. 

"A Death Cafe is very much alive. People embrace it," he said.

Services Librarian Stefani Traina has attended Death Cafe and said she enjoyed the program.

"I found the one I attended to be an interesting evening of connecting with others about a variety of topics, not all concerning death," she said. "I think people enjoy the opportunity to talk with others, and there is usually a mix of newcomers and 'regulars' who come."


WHAT: Death Cafe program

WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 14, socializing, refreshments start at 6:30 p.m., event at 7.

WHERE: Memorial Hall Library, Andover

COST: Free

REGISTER: mhl.org/calendar

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