Passer à table le jour de l'entrée d'un parent en établissement médico-social
Entre repas d'accueil et repas de deuil
Entering a medico-social establishment (MSE) and spending a few months in it before dying is a reality that one in fi ve persons aged eighty and over face. While MSEs are described as places to live, dying is often simultaneously present in these nursing homes. On the part of the institution, the residents’ stay must be arranged from admission to death. The staff organises rituals of entry without always thinking of them as such. This is the case with the welcome meal, organised for each new entry, observed in an MSE. An analysis of this meal shows how it can take on the appearance of a separation rite even as it is considered by the staff as a rite of alliance with the new resident and his relatives. This paper reports the re-categorisation – from relative to resident – that takes place during the meal. It exposes how this particular meal reveals order functions, exchanges and rituals at the heart of the institution.