Sharing the pain

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

Losing a loved one is part of life. So is talking about it. But after a while, for some people the pain does not go away and the people around them are not always understanding. Bereavement cafés are organised to allow people to talk about their grief in a simple way, without taboos.

From a distance the little group looks like friends having a drink in a café. Smiles, laughter sometimes, discussions. But if you get a little closer you see a lot of emotion. Patricia Ferrante, a sophrologist and trainer in bereavement and life break-up, has been organising what she calls "bereavement cafés" for several months now. We went to two meetings, one in April, at the Bouneweger Stuff in Bonnevoie, then in June, at the Rétro Bistrot in Bettembourg-Livange. The sophrologist offers these cafés every two months, and participation is free (excluding drinks): "Death is a universal experience, which affects everyone at different stages of life, but the experience remains personal. The bereavement café is not a therapeutic space, it is not a course on bereavement", says the coach.

Birthdays or difficult times of the year

The concept is not new, but she wanted to import it to Luxembourg, to enrich the existing structures and offer a place to talk: "The bereavement café is organised in a less formal place where I make sure that the atmosphere remains benevolent and without judgement. Sometimes the bereaved have tired their family and friends who no longer want to listen. The first few months are difficult and for some people more than a year after the loss of a loved one, the desire to talk about it is still felt. The bereavement café provides this space". Patricia is the organiser, but after a brief introduction, she does not speak much during the session. The floor is largely reserved for the participants, who take turns to talk about their experiences.

Each story is different, and anniversaries or other specific times of the year can bring back memories and the desire to talk about their loved one. Patricia Ferrante would also like to see nursing staff become more aware of this issue, as she believes that the announcement of a death is crucial for those around them: "Medical staff are not always well trained in announcing a death, yet this is what marks the family and what they will always remember. This is why I offer training in this area. There is psychological follow-up, discussion groups in specialised associations, but the bereavement café is something else again".

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