The German “Trauerakademie” – Grief Academy – has initiated a new type of collaboration with the tour operator TUI. The purpose is to provide specially organized charter tours for persons who have lost a dear family member or friend. TUI has a long experience in travel organization, and Trauerakademie holds an expertise in assisting people in mourning. The Trauerakademie undertakes an interview with the potential travelers in order to ensure that the participants are beyond the first paralyzing shock, and that they are ready to take steps back to life under the guidance of the “mourning companions”.
During a visit the participants will be offered guided tours, cultural and nature experiences, music, dinners etc. Thus, it is not about hiding the sorrow away, but to create new circumstances and environments that eventually can re-introduce happiness and optimism. The participants understand each others’ situation, and that is considered very helpful. The structure of the days in morning “lfe sense” sessions, afternoons “life culture” sessions, and the evening “life joy” sessions is a way to regain a sense of daily routine and readiness to act.
The staff from the Trauerakademie are not therapists, but they are able, as a consequence of their practical training, to lend an ear and perhaps structure the complex thoughts of the grievers. They assist in the staging of for example meaningful joint rituals, such as for example planting trees for the dead. The participants are free to take part or not in semi-spiritual activities according to their preferences.
Marketing of these tours does not take place at the main TUI leisure platform, but mainly through grief groups, undertakers, hospices etc.
The tours were first launched in 2009, and they have been met by a very considerable positive interest and demand. However, the initiative also has its critics. The spokesperson from Trauerakademi finds that as long as death remains somewhat a taboo in Western societies, there will be a need for such a niche product as mourning tours. Innovation in tourism has many outsprings, and deficiencies in the society is one of them.