Death, in general, is a very challenging topic and it is to a great extent not touched upon in German public. Indeed, many people wouldn’t talk about it. I could imagine that Americans and Germans are quite similar in their approach to death as our societies have a great deal in common. First, however, I would like to talk about some general formal proceedings that go along with death. Then, I want to share some of my own experiences.
As Germany is historically and culturally influenced by Christianity, many people have funeral services at church. At the funeral, the family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances would have the opportunity to say good bye officially to their dear loved. It is commonly accustomed that the deceased’s children invite the family and close friends to a funeral meal after the service. Many people address personal massages to the spouse expressing their condolences for the severe loss. Despite being often publicly disregarded, the topic of death is covered in school in religious education as well as in ethical class. Students have the chance to talk about their experience with death. Admittedly, I am not certain if that is part of every state’s curriculum, but I’ve never heard to the contrary.
The last person in my family who passed away was my grandfather. When that happened, I was only four and therefore I struggle to remember his funeral. As I grew up in a Christian home, I believe in an afterlife and therefore I strongly assume to see my grandfather again. His passing away did not seriously affect me, since I was very little and additionally had not known him very well. From my own experience, however, it appears to me that people who believe in God seem to have less trouble dealing with death than those who do not. In regard to my close social environment, it is hard to tell how people deal with death. In fact, almost all of my friends haven’t experienced any tragic loss in their families and therefore this is not a subject we would talk about in personal terms but rather philosophically.