November 11, 2019: Radboud University in the Dutch city of Nijmegen went beyond more traditional ways of coping with the stress of academia – like yoga or therapy animals – by digging a grave for students to reflect on the transience of life.
It ran a similar project between 2009 and 2011 and recently dug another grave in the garden of the student chaplaincy for anyone hoping to take a break as to Metro.
Telephones and books are strictly prohibited, while students who are too squeamish to actually descend into the grave can use a nearby bench to meditate instead.
Young people can lie there and use the time to reflect on the concept of their own mortality and the fleeting nature of life, organisers said.
This unique meditation experience is advertised across campus led by the Latin phrase ‘Memento mori’, which means ‘remember you must die’.
One student, Sean McLaughlin, told Ruptly: ‘Me and my housemate were planning on going a week ago, a week and a half ago, and we found that there is a waiting list to actually get into the grave, so it’s quite popular, so we didn’t get the chance yet, but I plan to go sometime soon whenever I move up.’
The project was started by chaplain John Hacking, who is also seen personally digging the grave in footage produced by the university.
He said: ‘The end of life, death, is a taboo, difficult for students… death is very difficult to talk about, especially when you are 18, 19, 20 years old.’
His hope is that by realising that life has an end, the students will be inspired to finding meaning in it and make something out of the time they have.