People and Places: Michigan’s first death café opens in Grand Rapids

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The Mortals is a safe place to talk about death. Courtesy iStock

Grand Rapids now has a death café. The Mortals, 111 S. Division Ave., opened in September and offers up coffee and pastries, all while letting people explore the topic of death.

The concept originated in London, allowing people to gather and talk about mortality. The Mortals is the first death café in Michigan — there about 60 across the globe.

“Familiarizing ourselves with death allows us to live a more fulfilled life,” The Mortals owner Abbey Hunter said in September. “On one hand, you have people who don’t accept death and live as though they will never actually die, and on the other hand, you have people who are so afraid of dying they never actually live. The more we talk about it, the more comfortable we can be with it and find a balance in living.”

There is a monthly session called Café Mortel allowing conversations of death and dying, with free coffee and snacks.

Cemetery becomes West Michigans first arboretum

Oakhill Cemetery offers a place to learn about trees. Courtesy city of Grand Rapids

Keeping with the mortal tone, Oakhill Cemetery, 647 Hall St. SE, became the first accredited arboretum in West Michigan. There are more than 400 arboreta on earth.

A Level I arboretum requires at least 25 tree species and at least one opportunity for public learning to help promote tree diversity, conservation, research and history.

Michigan Artist Series highlights tribal art

The Grand Rapids Art Museum displays intricate baskets from the Gun Lake Tribe. Courtesy GRAM

The Gun Lake Tribe’s black ash basketry is on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, until Feb. 26, 2022.

An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish features 20 new works highlighting the centuries-old art form.

These stories can be found in the November/December 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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