Feeling alive at Death Cafe

A welcoming group of people that gather“. I stopped reading at that point and clicked on ‘Attending’.

Communities are sacred places.  They serve to unite a group of people who share something, whether it be an interest, a neighbourhood or a cause.

The one thing I have always adored about Berlin is the respect the city has for communities. I remember going on a ‘hipster tour of Berlin’ and learning about the vibrant neighbourhood Kreuzberg. A story that really struck a cord with me involved an older Turkish immigrant who couldn’t afford the raised rent. Her community came together and fought for her right to keep her flat at the same rate. They gathered and protested to protect one of their own. That, to me, is what a city should be. A place where people care for one another and protect each other.

Thrown by the Dying Well Collective, Death Café is a community of individuals who simply want to discuss a taboo topic: death. Held at the Centre of Social Innovation in the Annex,  the event brings out more than a dozen people every last Tuesday of the month. Once there, attendees can hydrate, eat snacks, chat with one another and take advantage of the open forum to discuss something they can’t openly discuss elsewhere.

‘What is death?’ our facilitator asked the group and out came responses that varied in tone from very positive to neutral, to fear-filled to completely negative. No one judged, no one tried to correct anyone and everyone got a fair chance to explain their rationale behind their definition of death. The 90 minutes flew by as we exchanged ideas, stories and news-worthy items about the topic at hand. By the end, I felt a certain kind of relief. The kind you didn’t know you needed but reaped the benefits of afterwards.

I went home that night feeling a bit lighter, knowing that a group of people understood my fears, felt my concerns and came together to give each other the support no one would have given them.

Communal spaces and causes are worth checking out. Even if it’s your first time going to an event that is held to bring people together, I’d recommend doing it. You don’t know how much you need that group of strangers to be there until you’re sitting in a circle with them, feeling all the feelings of vulnerability, fear and angst but hanging in there until the end to bask in the joy of ultimate relief.

 

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