Six years ago, a man and his mother started a worldwide movement. The 50-country-strong Death Café community is rocked today by news of the sudden death of founder Jon Underwood.
Jon, who inspired, guided, and supported hundreds of volunteer hosts and whose work impacted untold thousands, died suddenly on Tuesday 27th June from an undiagnosed Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia. He was 44.
As for me, I consider myself enormously privileged to have shared a number of conversations with Jon. He generously made himself available across 8 time zones to advise me as I organized the first PDX Death Café in 2013. Among Jon’s gifts were clarity of vision and focus, and humble but firm directness in communicating that vision and maintaining the focus.
I was one of the plethora of hosts who veered from the simple and effective model that defines the Death Café brand. In those heady early years, Jon patiently conveyed to me the necessity of respecting Death Café guidelines if using the name, while never discouraging other approaches to talking about death. Jon’s integrity and skillful boundary-setting, along with his extraordinary generosity, will remain touchstones for me until the end of my days.
It’s not an overstatement to say that Death Café changed the course of my life. I know many can say the same. The ripples from Jon’s life will be washing up on shores around the world for years to come. I’m deeply saddened by news of his death, and deeply grateful for the way he chose to spend his days. Read More