The unknown is full of infinite possibilities - something always comes from nothing.
Good Mourning Cafe began within the emptiness of personal grief - a rupture in the middle of a chasm forever altering the life I thought I knew. As I spoke with others about the pain and beauty of my experiences, they began to share their own. Suddenly, our conversations about death and grief became less taboo in polite company. Grief was a common ground and a bridge for deep healing connections with other grievers. This project is ongoing and in the process of reinvention following the Covid pandemic.
Inagural Good Mourning Café dinnerware by Susan Messer McBride
The Good Mourning Cafe is a traveling art installation, social experiment, and community outreach program. The cafe intends to provide a safe space for Chicagoans to tell personal stories about death and dying while exploring the painful emotions accompanying mourning within a community of other grievers. Comfort food will be served. Additionally, we will host performing and visual art exhibitions curated by Good Mourning Cafe.
The denial of death in our culture means the delicate mourning process is often rushed. The expression of vulnerable emotion is seen as a sign of weakness, giving little permissible time to "get back to normal." Mourning is considered "taboo," and many cannot bear the discomfort of being around the bereaved. Many mourners are rejected by friends who don't know what to say or how to help. As our culture shies away from conversations about death and the pain left in its wake, those who've lost a loved one are left feeling isolated and confused. When and where is it acceptable to be sad?
The benefits of Good Mourning Café to the public are: to provide a safe, sacred space for grief, a place to express intense painful emotions with awareness; to receive nourishment and comfort through community support and shared experiences; to allow the release of grief through creative practice in an environment where no apologies are needed, and it is acceptable to be sad.
art on wall and pedestal by Corinne d. Peterson
Accidental Furnace, ceramic sculpture, by Corinne D Peterson
"Breathe", porcelain plate by Cathi Schwalbe
Special thanks to Kimberly Atwood, who donated Elephant Room Gallery for the event, helped set up the exhibition, and serve comfort food to our guests. She worked tirelessly to help the evening flow! Thank you to Cathi Schwalbe, who spoke about her porcelain "BREATHE" plates, made especially for the cafe, and Susan Messer McBride for her incredibly special dinnerware and ceramic mugs for the dinner. Thank you to Debi Buzil and Kenny Dread for their big hearts and transformative Kirtan chants and for leading the group in a closing ritual.
Special thanks to Corinne D. Peterson for being such a powerful artist, attending the cafe, and talking about her motivation to participate. Her artwork provided the perfect backdrop for grief and served as a meaningful conversation starter.
If you would like to be informed of future Good Mourning Café events, please add your email below.