& Art Salon

"Don't worry, about a thing, cuz every little ting, gonna be awright. was wearing my bob marley t-shirt while driving home after yelling in your ear and heard this song. bob knows what he is talking about, listen to bob.

"i know you know that i do not sulk and pine for what is not."  

--Excerpted from an email sent to a friend by her brother after the death of their mother.

First Lyons Death Cafe Open During LAW

During the Lyons Art Weekend (LAW), June 7-9, 2013, Death Café and Art Salon will be open Sunday, June 9th, between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 5 pm at the Lyons Yoga and Wellness Center, 310 Main Street, Lyons, Colorado, U.S.A. Visitors to the Death Café and Art Salon will spend time in a nurturing and open environment to talk about the art of death (or the death of art), and to explore resulting feelings and images through a process of creative uncovery.

Participants will be free to discuss topics of life and death from many points of view. Paper and art supplies will be provided for those wishing to explore their thoughts and feelings visually. Refreshments will be available mid-afternoon, at which point the discussion may shift gears into how we want to spend the rest of our finite time here on planet Earth. Death Café and Art Salon is free and open to all ages, but may not be appropriate for anyone currently in the middle of the “white heat of bereavement.”
The Lyons Death Café and Art Salon is for folks who may not have thought very much about death or even know how they feel about it. What might it be like to think and talk about death openly amidst a group of strangers? Don’t worry. Using the medium of line, shape, form, and color, participants at Death Café and Art Salon will also have an opportunity to uncover deeper emotions that may be difficult or impossible to put into words. However, no one really knows what will happen at the first Lyons Death Café and Art Salon. As Dylan put it, “But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life and life only.”

At Death Café and Art Salon, you will be entering a creative and supportive space, but life and death is still a mystery and there are no guarantees except one: Everybody dies. But if you don’t take care of your body, where will you live? And as Dylan reminds us all, “….he who is not busy being born is busy dying.”

Lyons Death Café and Art Salon will be offered on a not-for-profit basis, with a suggested donation of $5 to $10 to cover the costs of space, refreshments, and supplies and to fund the next Death Café and Art Salon. Death Café and Art Salon will be facilitated by local artist Phyllis J. O’Rourke, M.A., a member-affiliate of the social franchise and global movement known as “Death Café.” She is the co-author with fellow artist Sally King of the book of grief poems, “Nobody’s Afraid of the Dark during the Day.” O’Rourke, a graduate of Goddard College, has been a member of the Lyons Depot Library Art-4-Art Artist Trading Card group since 2004 and is the founding member of a local artist support group that has been meeting weekly for over twenty-five years.

Death Café is the brain child of Jon Underwood, a man who wanted to challenge and improve attitudes toward death. According to Underwood, the objective of Death Café is “To increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
“Our only belief,” Underwood notes, “is that it is useful to reflect on death for some people at some time. As such, it is absolutely against our principles to attempt to lead participants towards any conclusions about life, death or the afterlife apart from their own.” Underwood credits the Swiss sociologist, Bernard Crettaz, for giving him the idea for Death Café and upon whose ideas he has been building since the first Death Café was held in London in 2011. Death Café spread to the United States through the work of Lizzy Miles.

Attending a Death Café gives folks an opportunity to express their views safely and confidentially, free of discrimination, free of judgment, free from ideology, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, faith, ethnicity or disability. No idea is too far out to be aired, and no one is ridiculed or told what to think, feel or believe. A Death Café is a place free of pontification and sage advice. While the sharing may be deep and intimate, a Death Café is not a therapeutic support group. At Death Cafés, folks listen to each other with respect, even if the ideas being expressed are radically different from their own.

“Our society doesn’t make it easy for people to talk about death,” Underwood says. “And in fact, not everyone should talk about death. There may well be people for whom it is not helpful to focus on death at any particular time.”  Though, of course, everyone is welcome at a Death Café, the venue may not be appropriate for anyone who has recently been diagnosed with a potentially fatal malady, who has a friend or relative close to death, or who may have recently experienced the death of a loved one.

More information about Death Café affiliation can be found at: You may also visit the artist’s website at: E-mail inquiries about Death Café and Art Salon can be sent to For Snail Mail inquiries, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Death Café and Art Salon, c/o The Gutter Artist, P.O. Box 892, Lyons, CO 80540. Please provide your name, P.O. address, phone number, e-mail address, and the reason for your interest in Death Café and Art Salon. Donations to help fund the next Death Café and Art Salon will be gratefully accepted. 

See Post for June 29, 2013 for a report about the first Lyons Death Cafe. Here is the supplemental material from that post:


Mystery; Forgiveness; Relinquishment; Letting Go; Fulfillment; Journey; Trip; Change; Source; Satisfaction; Friendship; Support; Patience; Flow; Acceptance; Anxiety; Surrender; Gravity; Nonjudgement; Gratitude; Addiction; Gift; Liberation; Transition; All-ness; Curiosity; Holding On; Unknown; Revenge; Laughter; Continuation; Awareness; Peace; Wholeness; Love; Finality; Never Ending Union; Opportunity; Retirement; Denial; Compassion; Inevitable; Separation; Silence; Ultimate; Return to Source; Release; Suspension; Revolution; Beginning; Cessation; End; Metamorphosis; Precious; Temporary; Impermanent; Transitory; Termination; Extinction; Loss; Absence; Mortality; Absoluteness; Grief; Breaking Down; Holding Up; Falling Apart; Going to Pieces; Doing Well; Bearing Up; Weathering the Storm; Being Strong; Thankful; Indifference; Despair; Hope; Faith; Gladness; Loss; Gain; Pain; Sorrow; Misery; Ease; Repose; Outrage; Heartbreak; Transgressive


“Knowing that everybody will die eventually, how then shall we live?”

“Am I dead or alive (the solution is the problem).” --Super Sky Woman

Out of every 100 people who are born, the number of people who actually die equals 100 out of 100 (in other word death expectancy rate = 100%).

“To undertake is to bind oneself to the performance of a task, to pledge or promise to get it done” p. xix, “The Undertaking,” by Thomas Lynch.


The objective of Death Café is:
“To increase awareness of death with a view to helping folks make the most of their (finite) lives.”

Death Cafés are always:
1. Free: Donations towards expenses are gratefully accepted.
2. Free from ideology, offering no conclusions about life, death or the afterlife and respectful of each other’s views.
3. Safe and nurturing, which includes the serving of tea and cake.
4. Accessible to and respectful of all, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, faith, ethnicity and disability.
5. Confidential (as such folks’ thoughts, feelings, and views are kept confidential).

Please send an Evaluation email to:
Tell us about your actual experience at Death Café (including both before, during and after your attendance). In what ways have your thoughts and feelings about death changed since attending Death Café & Art Salon? In what ways could Death Café be improved (information, structure, discussion, physical space, refreshments, facilitation)? If someone told you they were thinking of attending a Death Café, what would you say to them?
Your feedback is most appreciated (if you don’t want what you’ve written to be quoted, let us know). Thank you.



On the day when the weight deadens on your shoulders and you stumble,
May the clay dance to balance you.
And when your eyes freeze behind the grey window
And the ghost of loss gets into you,
May a flock of colours, indigo, red, green and azure blue
Come to awaken you in a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays in the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters a path of yellow moonlight to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours.
May the clarity of light be yours.
May the fluency of the ocean be yours.
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life.

--John Donahue (1954-2008) (from “Echoes of Memory”)

“On Death, A Sermon”
All things summon us to death;
Nature almost envious of the good she has given us,
Tells us often and gives us notice
That she cannot for long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…
She has need of it for other forms, she claims it back for other works.

--Jacques-Bénigne Boussuet (1627-1704) (from “What Remains” by Sally Mann)


The Six Most Drastic Mistakes
--Marcus Tullius Cicero

1. The delusion that individual advancement is made by crushing others.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot do it ourselves.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit or reading and study.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.

Sign on Door at St. Benedict’s Monastery Retreat Center
--Noted by Patti P., 5/25/2006

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender oneself to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. It destroys one’s own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of one’s own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes the work fruitful.” --Thomas Merton
“Know your limits,” says Red Lake.
“Faith in the journey,“ says The Sand Rabbit
“No regrets,” says Damaris.


DEATH: Challenging Our Preconceived Notions
Andrews, Andy, “The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances”
Baines, Barry K., M.D., “Ethical Issues Relating to Life and Death.”
Becker, Ernest, “The Denial of Death”
Becker, Ernest, “Escape from Evil”
Carlson, Lisa, “I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch”
De Beauvoir, Simone, “A Very Easy Death”
Johnson, Marilyn, “The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries”
Ladd, John (Editor), “Ethical Issues Relating to Life and Death”
Landorf, Joyce, “Mourning Song”
Levine, Stephen, “A Year to Live”
Levine, Stephen, “Who Dies”
Lynch, Thomas, “The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade.”
Matson, Tim, “Round-Trip to Deadsville: A Year in the Funeral Underground”
Muller, Wayne, “How then Shall We Live?: Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives”
Neuhaus, Richard John, “As I Lay Dying: Mediations Upon Returning”
Nuland, Sherwin B., M.D., “How We Die: Feflections on Life’s Final Chapter.”
O’Rourke, Phyllis J., and Sally White King, “Nobody’s Afraid of the Dark during the Day: Sojourners in Grief; Dying & Living & Other Constants,” Valley Light Publications, 2004.
Zackheim, Victoria (Editor), “Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death”


Arnheim, Rudolf, “Visual Thinking”
Barry, Lynda, “What It Is”
Barry, Lynda, “Picture This”
Bayles, David, and Ted Orland, “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking”
Best-Maugard, Adolfo, “A Method for Creative Design”
Brookes, Mona, “Drawing with Children: A Creative Teaching and Learning Method that Works for Adults, Too”
Brown, Stuart, with Christopher Vaughan, “Play: How it Shapes the Bain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul”
Edwards, Betty, “Drawing on the Artist Within”
Field, Joanna, “On Not Being Able to Paint”
Jung, Carl G. “Memories, Dreams and Reflections”
Miller, Alice, “Pictures of a Childhood”
Nachmanovitch, Stephen, “Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art”
Parnes, Sidney J., “The Magic of Your Mind”
Pressfield, Steven, “The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle”
Shimoda, L.J.C, “Glyphix for Visual Journaling”
Stroud, Betsy Dillard, “The Artist’s Muse: Unlock the Door to Your Creativity”
Topal, Cathy Weisman, “Children and Painting”
Watts, Michael, “Doodle Interpretation: A Beginner’s Guide”


Your feedback is most appreciated (if you don’t want what you’ve written to be quoted, let me know).
1. Please tell me about your actual experiences at Death Café (feel free to include thoughts, feelings and impressions before, during and after your attendance).
2. In what ways have your thoughts and feelings about death changed since attending Death Café & Art Salon?
3. In what ways could Death Café be improved (information, structure, discussion, physical space, refreshments, facilitation, schedule, timing)?
4. What did you like the most about Death Café?
5. What did you like the least about Death Café?
6. If someone told you they were thinking of attending a Death Café, what would you say to them?
7. Other comments:

If you want additional information about the next Death Café, contact:

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