Death and Dying course to host community event

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MITCHELL, S.D. – Dakota Wesleyan students enrolled in this fall’s “Death, Dying and Life after Death” class will be conducting a “Death Café” in the Tiger Café in the McGovern Library on Monday, Dec. 13, at 1 p.m.  This event is open to the public.

A death café is a model started in the United Kingdom a few years ago to allow people to gather and talk openly about death-related issues.  No topics are off limits.  People often find that the more one talks about death, the less taboo the subject becomes.

Associate campus pastor and instructor Denise Van Meter says this is the fourth year for the event (last year’s was virtual).  The class is divided into a dozen teams of two.  Each will have a table with a topic related to the overall concept of death.  Guests can move freely from table to table.  The goal is for anyone who attends to take what is learned and share with others.

Van Meter stresses that the “death” in Death Café need not be the death of a person; it is the concept of loss.  Discussions in the class have centered around those things lost to the pandemic; loss of a marriage or relationship; end of an athletic or college career; and, of course, death of a loved one.  The “Life after Death” in the course title does not refer to a religious perspective, but how humans carry on with life after experiencing loss.

Topics the student teams will cover include children and grief, organ donation, legal documents, green burial options, finding the right words in a time of grief and many others.