3rd May 2017


Dying Matters Awareness Week

8th May to 14th May

This blog will be the death of me listeners it really will 😉

Okay. I’ll stop with the puns and introduce this guest post from Sue Holden. Sue is a civil celebrant and grief recovery specialist. Together with Reshma Field who is Swindon Will Writing, she runs a regular death cafe in Swindon. Links to their websites are at the bottom of this post.

Here Sue writes about dying matters awareness week – a nationwide thing doing what it says on the tin.  It makes sense. As Benjamin Franklin apparently said: ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Stone cross - dying matters awareness week

Does dying matter? Of course, it does.

Then why don’t we talk about it? We plan and discuss other major life events. It doesn’t have to be morbid and it won’t not happen just because you don’t talk about it!

From 8th May to 14th May, events are taking place all over the country with the intention of helping people become more comfortable about planning and talking about death and dying.

Dying Matters is a coalition led by the National Council for Palliative Care. It’s function is to support the implementation of the Department of Health’s ‘End of Life Care’ strategy. To make a ‘good death’ the norm and this year’s theme is ‘What Can You Do?’

Death Cafes make you a ‘legitimate weirdo’ so there will be hundreds running up and down the country for us all to be ‘weird’ together. There’ll also be other events looking at and discussing death and dying.

But who says we are weird? Is it not time to take back responsibility for ourselves instead of leaving it to our children? Make decisions about your end of life care, for how and where you wish to die, for your funeral and funeral ceremony. Have the last laugh. Have the last word! Make every aspect of your life personal and memorable.

About 500,000 people die every year and 70 percent of people would like to die at home, yet 50 percent of people die in hospital. Due to advancements in medicine in hospitals and hospices we can keep people alive for longer, but at what quality?

Many people live to an old age and life expectancy is increasing. This means that many people don’t experience the death of a family member or close friend until they are mid-life themselves.

There used to be some certainties with diseases and accidents but modern medicines have blurred the lines. Society as a whole has never been less exposed to death. As a result, we’ve become afraid of what we don’t know, can’t see and haven’t experienced. Fear of the unknown means that people sometimes avoid those who are ill and dying and feel unable to support them. It also means that if relatives of a loved one don’t know a persons’ preferences, they may make decisions about care that the dying person doesn’t want. When the inevitable happens, those who are left behind often have to make decisions in a hurry when they’re emotionally distraught and least able to make them. It can also be comforting to those near death to know that their passing will not add any extra stress and pain if their final wishes are known and will be carried out.

Terrorism and wars bring death closer to us, so we cannot go on ignoring it. In some cultures, and countries death through fights, stabbings, gun crime, famine, disease etc. can be ‘normal’. Does this make it easier to talk about? Yes, it can do. Grief can be a catalyst to talk. We don’t know when we’re going to die. When we’re young we think it will be never!

Yet, we often live better when we know and accept that we’re going to die and embrace our mortality. Be present, enjoy what you do, experiment, have no regrets.

Start to talk about death and dying before grief becomes your catalyst by checking in at an event near you.

Boat funeral - dying matters awareness week

In Swindon, Sue Holden will be running her regular Death Cafe at the Village Hotel (de Vere) at Shaw Leisure Park SN5 7DW on Tuesday 9th May from 7.00pm to 8.30pm. Admission is FREE.

The Prospect Hospice will also be running similar events throughout the week. Find out more about that here: http://www.prospect-hospice.net/Events/dying-matters-awareness-week.aspx

In Trowbridge, at the Town Hall, people can pop in and ‘Ask the Undertaker’, join a Death Café for coffee and cakes, watch a couple of films and find out about writing a will, powers of attorney, planning your funeral, writing your ceremony and many other interesting subjects.

If you would like further information about events in Swindon and Wiltshire please contact Sue on 07941273589 or via email: susan.cfc.holden@gmail.com


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