“Facing expectations” – Seniors gather at Cal State Fullerton to discuss death – Orange County Register

Marci Matthews will smile when a grim reaper knocks at her door.

“I am out. Adios! I will see you in the realm,” said the 78-year-old Orange resident as she imagined her last words. “When it’s our time to go, we go.”

Matthews is a “student” of the Cal State Fullerton Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s (OLLI) Death Café, where dozens of retired seniors gather on Fridays to learn and talk about the intricacies of death and dying.

Hank Smith and Fritz von Coelln started the café four years ago after reading a New York Times article on a similar café in New Jersey.

Death comes often and close to many members. About a half dozen of Smith’s close friends at OLLI have passed away this year. That makes the discussion of death more necessary and unavoidable for the members.

“(Death) is a part of being a human,” Smith said. “For young people, it is tragic. But for older people, it is an expectation.”

Von Coelln wasn’t sure how to face death about a decade ago when his first wife had cancer.

“I thought we would live forever,” said von Coelln.

But when von Coelln’s wife passed away, he found that death, after all, wasn’t too bad.

Von Coelln…

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