Mobile café for mourners on German cemetery


Central Europe


Cemetery Café in Fürth during the Covid pandemic. Photo FürthWiki

At some German cemeteries, mourners who visit the grave of a loved one can sit down and drink a cup of coffee in a mobile café. The mobile cemetery cafés are specifically placed to comfort the living amid the dead.

Recently, the Protestant cemetery in Augsburg started to offer its visitors the possibility to sit down for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Its goal is to give mourners a place to exchange ideas and talk to others with the same experience, Domradio writes.

Pastor Bettina Böhmer-Lamey from the Augsburg City Church says that the café helps people to feel less lonely. Previously, she heard from cemetery workers that visitors talked to the gravestones. Especially on Sunday, people seemed to feel alone.

At the Erlangen Central Cemetery, a café has been in place since 2020. Every Sunday afternoon, volunteers distribute cake and coffee next to the funeral parlour. They notice that many of the visitors return to the café regularly. Only in winter is the café closed. "In May, we are happy that things are starting again, and in November, we are complaining", one of the visitors of the café tells Domradio. She met other widows at the café and befriended them. Now, they meet regularly.

Everyone is welcome

Some cemetery cafés also have meeting rooms in which mourners can talk to employees trained in mourning counselling, the website of "Friedhofscafé" in Willich writes. Even though the cemetery café is connected to the Roman Catholic Church, people from all affiliations are welcome. Furthermore, training is offered in bereavement ministry and supervision.

One of the employees in Augsburg is Charlotte Rieger, Domradio writes. Rieger says that the team of volunteers walk over the cemetery and invite visitors to the café. "That requires a little sensitivity", Pastor Bettina Böhmer-Lamey adds. Cemetery cafés are not always liked by everyone. Some people find the offer disrespectful, the minister says.

More and more cemeteries are open to cafés. Leander Wirth, one of the volunteers at the cemetery in Fürth, says there have been inquiries about the concept. According to him, it is essential for cemeteries that consider the possibility to find a place near the cemetery where they can prepare coffee. "So you don't have to carry the full puts that far."



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