The Secret to a Full Life By: Jane Skrypnek

Kim LeGallais has discovered the secret of living life to its fullest, and it is not what you would expect.

Death, dying, and grief are the topics that drive people in 40 countries around the world to gather together at what are called Death Cafes.


In Ottawa, LeGallais currently heads up these gatherings. She has held two so far this year and is in the process of planning more for the New Year.

“Death Cafe is a place for people to get together in a safe, informal setting and talk about death, dying, grief, and loss, and how all of these things can bring us to living our lives more intentionally or fully,” says LeGallais.

LeGallais describes the setting of a typical Death Cafe as informal and inclusive.

LeGallais's poster promoting her September 24, 2016 Death Cafe gathering. credit:

“The conversation begins with one question: What brought you here today? Truthfully, the rest flows from there,” says LeGallais.

Depending on the number of people in attendance the group may stick together or break off into smaller pods.

LeGallais describes how sticking to smaller groups is important to ensuring that everyone gets a chance to share and talk, and does not have a large audience to feel intimidated by.

Although she is currently the only person running Death Cafes in Ottawa, LeGallais stresses it is open to absolutely anyone to do so. In fact, she encourages it.

“What I would like to see happen is for there to be Death Cafes held across Ottawa, with at least one in each direction of the city so that people can easily attend one that isn’t too far from them,” says LeGallais.

Kim LeGallais sits in front of her favourite painting in her Barrhaven, Ottawa home and describes how death has brought light into her life.

For LeGallais, embracing and accepting death has allowed her to appreciate each aspect of her life a little more, and not take anything for granted.

LeGallais's personal bio pulled from the Death Cafe main website. credit:

Through Death Cafe, LeGallais hopes to open up the discussion of death and make people realize it should not be the taboo subject society has made it into.

“I truly believe that the more we talk about death and make it a normal part of life, the easier it will be for us to move through our grief as well,” says LeGallais.

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