Death Cafe’ Verona – Parma, 30th October 2104 – “Il rumore del lutto”
The fifteenth Death Café’ Verona was held in Parma on the 30th October this year on the occasion of the eighth edition of the event entitled “Il rumore del lutto” (“The sound of bereavement”). The aim of this event is to provide space for reflections on life and death.
I would like to thank Maria Angela Gelati for offering us the opportunity to take part, Camilla Sarzi for the photos and ON/OFF who made us welcome in their splendid area.
In answers to the question “Which three words come to mind when you hear the word death?” included: rest (and rest in peace is the phrase we use at the end of the prayer for the dead); the first night of rest is death (Goethe) because one sleeps without dreams, as the main character says in the film of the same name by Valerio Zurlini; dark (we close our eyes); soul (what remains of us?); peace; light (maybe when we die we see light and not dark, light for those who are dying); black (the opposite of light, black is for those who are left behind); emptiness (the loss of someone dear or the dying person leaving things unfinished); scheleton, skull, (visual images related to death which originated in the middle ages).
The word light led to various reflections during the course of our conversation. There are many ways of thinking of light in relation to death: light as evanescence; the light which is seen by some in pre-death experiences -and for some this phenomenon can be explained scientifically while the blinding light representing the end of a journey, a liberation from commitments is dictated by cultural conditioning. In medieval paintings, gold was used as a metaphor for an ultra-terrestrial place made entirely of light. In Buddhism, the expression clear light is used to indicate that part of us which continues to exist after death, our spiritual spark.
For some it is important to be prepared for death. “to die, yes, but not to be snatched by death” as the poet Vincenzo Cardarelli wrote. It is important to be aware that “we are all approaching the evening”, that we live exactly because we die, we are always going to die. For this very reason, it is fundamental for us to ask ourselves what is essential and not put off the essential things, even though we must realize that some things will always be left unfinished. For others death means going to bed and dying in bed. Sudden death can even make us angry.
What would we not want to regret: “I would like to finish my degree, maybe I stopped studying out of laziness”; “I would like to have children”; “I would like to be successful at sport”; “I don’t want to regret not having done things the way I wanted to do them”; “I sometimes wonder if I have really made enough of an effort”; “I would not like to regret having made choices dictated by convention, choices regarding my studies”; “It is important to have personal aspirations and to choose with your heart”.
The words used to describe this Death Café’ were: new; reassuring; cosy; interesting; useful; confidential; stimulating; involving; relaxing; comparing; friendship; debate; open –mindedness.
All of the participants said they would recommend taking part in a Death Café to a friend.