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Description of Project


The Good Mourning Cafe is a traveling art installation, social experiment and community outreach program conceived by artist Connie Noyes. The intention of the cafe is to provide a safe space for Chicagoans to tell personal stories relating to death and dying while exploring the painful emotions that accompany mourning. The cafe will foster a sense of community by providing a space to share meals and conversation. Additionally, the space will host performing and visual art exhibitions generated specifically for the Good Mourning Cafe.


Good Mourning Cafe pop-up in diverse locations throughout Chicago. The first event will took place March 1st and 3rd, 2016 at Elephant Room Gallery in the South Loop. Artists Susan Messer McBride and Cathi Schwalbe ll created dinnerware and serving pieces for guests to enjoy a community meal of comfort food.  Scared and imperfect wood was recycled into a dining table and seating. The curation of objects and experiences of Good Mourning Café speaks to the immutable and mysterious transitions of life.


A Swiss psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' book Death and Dying she outlined the five stages of grief but states there is never a straight line through the process. The stages are mere tools which help identify and normalize what we are experiencing. 


Public Benefit of Good Mourning Cafe


Even with the American culture’s preoccupation with the preservation of youth and beauty, youthful vitality will not last forever. Death will eventually come for all of us despite the desire to deflect the inevitable.


The denial of death in our culture means the delicate process of mourning 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 are unable to bear the discomfort of being around the bereaved. Many mourners are rejected by friends because they 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 release of grief through creative practice in an environment where no apologies are needed and it is acceptable to be sad. 

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