Death Positive Programming

What is Death Positivity?

Congressional Cemetery is pleased to offer death positive programming. As an active burial ground, we are no strangers to death. But at Congressional Cemetery, we believe in talking openly and honestly about death without the stigma those conversations usually carry. Death positivity describes the idea that talking openly about death is healthy and important to appreciating life.

Introducing Death Doula Days

Congressional Cemetery is pleased to welcome Laura Lyster-Mensh as our Death Doula in residence for 2023! Given our interest in death positivity, Laura was a natural fit to welcome aboard. She will be hosting visitors for Death Doula Days on Saturdays, 10:00 AM- 1:00 PM at our Gatehouse for a weekly rotating slate of different death positive programs, activities, and discussions.

What is a Death Doula?

Death Doulas, or “end of life doulas,” are trained, non-clinical supporters of dying people and their families. Death doulas offer support with telling one’s life story, planning for death, and vigil at the end of life.

Want to rock Death Doula Days merchandise, including shirts, hoodies, and more?

Meet Laura

Laura Lyster-Mensh is a woman of a certain age who has travelled the world learning stories. She has lived in Asia and Greece, written books, hosted podcasts, run businesses, studied languages, and taught English. During the pandemic she and her family moved to DC, and she used some of her isolation time to take training as an end-of-life doula and hospice volunteer. She now volunteers at the Capital Caring hospice unit at Sibley Hospital. Among Laura’s goals for her residency are to promote death positive conversations among the HCC community and beyond.”

If you are interested please email Laura directly at

You may also follow the activities of Death Doula Days via Instagram.

Upcoming 2023 Death Doula Days Topics

November 18, 2023  Military death (special guest, A.J. Orlikoff)  RSVP
November 25 (holiday weekend: no Death Doula Day)
December 2, 2023 What is Loving End of Life Preparation? (TBA) RSVP
December 9, 2023 Bodies above and below ground (special guest, Margaret Canilang)  RSVP
December 12, 2023 Death Cafe RSVP
December 16, 2023 Immortalizing memories through photography (special guest, Kitty Linton) RSVP
December 23, 2023 (holiday break: no Death Doula Day)
December 30, 2023 Potluck end of year celebration (11am – 1pm) RSVP

Death Cafes

Congressional Cemetery, in conjunction with Laura, are now offering Death Cafes. Death Cafe is a global movement facilitating thoughts and discussion about the often-taboo subject of death. It’s an intimate informal gathering to discuss death while eating cake and drinking tea. There is no agenda other than providing a safe space to have an open-ended conversation.

Please join us for Historic Congressional Cemetery Death Cafes on February 7, April 11, June 13, August 8, October 10, and December 12 from 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM in our historic chapel. Tickets are free and are available for reservation approximately one month prior to the event date on January 12, March 14, May 9, July 11, September 12, and November 7.

Death Cafes

  • Death Cafe

    December 12 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

    As an active burial ground, Historic Congressional Cemetery is well acquainted with death. But just what is a Death Cafe? Death Cafe is a global [...]

Death Doula Days

  • Death Doula Days

    December 9 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

    This Saturday’s topic is: Bodies above and below ground (special guest, Margaret Canilang) Our special drop in guest will be Margaret Canilang, HCC Director of Conservation. As always when we have a special guest for Q&A this is from 10:30am to 11:30am. You are welcome, of course, to arrive or leave any time during Death Doula Day office hours 10am until noon.

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