March 2024 Shepherdstown Death Cafe

Spring is starting to spring up all around us, peeping green from the decay of last year's leaves - life rising up out of death, death giving birth to new life - the eternal cycle coming round again.

Tea and cake were set out for our guests, and as people gathered.

The first topic brought to the table for discussion (thank you, Christine!) was the idea of "delayed" or "displaced" grief. What is it - why is it?  How does it look for different grievers and difference death circumstances?  Is it cultural - individual - communal - self-protective?

Conversation then moved to thinking about which cultures (like the Tibetan Buddhists) "do death" well - or, at least, better than current Western culture?  Indigenous cultures, closer to the cycles of nature, seem to know how to live with the fact of death, the need to grieve individually and communally, the need to acknowledge, express, and hold space for pain - other's, and our own.  Tracy mentioned the ancient Irish tradition of keening - lament led by women on behalf of the community, often including extemporaneous singing of praise for the person who has died.  Nothing in our culture seems to be able to meet those human needs.

Finally, we talked about pets and death, and how grieving our pets is viewed by others, and perceived in ourselves.  What is it about our fur-friends that generates such deep grief?

As always, a surprising amount of laughter accompanies these rich conversations among neighbors. It is a joy to meet in community.

With gratitude to the Shepherdstown Public Library for hosting, and to our attendees for their beautiful contributions each month!

Add a comment