Essen center. A lively place for conversations about death, grief and life. Under this motto, the first Death Cafe took place last Saturday at Unperfekthaus in Essen. The Death Cafe Essen is an initiative of the Junge Trauer Essen (JTE), the youth grief group of the outpatient hospice service at the Alfried Krupp hospital Rüttenscheid.
At the premiere on 5. November 2022, five people took part in addition to the three-person JTE management team. "We are pleased that the pilot event was so well received by the participants. Everyone who was there was able to take something for themselves and would be happy to come back.", Peter Pfand, co-initiator of Death Cafe Essen and part of the JTE management team. “Death and grief are unfortunately still taboo subjects in our society. With the Death Cafe we want to bring these topics out of the taboo zone and into the middle of society."
The focus of the exchange at the Death Cafe Premiere was the burial and mourning culture in Germany. The participants reported on their experiences with norms and values that are often conveyed to the mourners from their personal environment. It is also worth taking a look at the death and mourning cultures in other countries. “Death and grief are not just black, heavy and dreary. Even if we are often taught that in our society. Life is colourful. This also applies to mourning”, explains co-initiator of Death Cafe Essen Friedrich Stratmann from his experience as a funeral speaker and funeral companion. The participants at the Death Cafe agreed: laughter is allowed at a funeral service - if it corresponds to the personality of the deceased person.
In addition to questions about the culture of death and mourning, the Death Cafe premiere also dealt with life and how one can already find a different way of dealing with death during one's lifetime. The participants talked about living wills and powers of attorney. "When I approached my family about the issue at the time, the others looked at me totally confused", says Dana Lammers, co-initiator of Death Cafe Essen and leader of the youth grief group. “I also see it as a responsibility in my lifetime to think about it. As a grief counselor, I experience again and again how helpful it is for relatives that everything is clearly regulated in an emergency. That gives structure and security in turbulent times." At the end of the event, the participants were certain: We'll be back! The next Death Cafe Essen is planned for January 2023.