The festival aims to inspire, inform, support and challenge local people, and reach out to communities who are often excluded from conversations and rituals connected with death, such as the homeless or those with mental health issues.
A wide variety of fun, thought-provoking, informative and moving events are taking place in various venues around Oxford. There are talks, performances, exhibitions and workshops, and at some events there will be an identified person who can offer individual support if a person feels they need to talk to someone privately.
Sobell Songs, taking place on 24 October, is a concert featuring original music written by patients who have been taken care of by Sobell House Hospice. Many of the songwriters will not have lived to see their music performed, but the audience will be packed with their families and friends. The concert is a celebration of their songs and their lives.
The concert will be led by music therapist Bob Heath, who has worked for the hospice for the past 10 years and is also a lecturer in music therapy at the University of the West of England. Bob supports patients and families in using creative song writing to express important feelings and to create legacies in music and song, using music as a way of expressing feelings when there are no words, or when words are not enough.
Other events taking place during the festival include:
- Home Death – a rehearsed reading of play by Nell Dunn, based on her own experiences and those of her friends of a home death, telling a funny, disturbing and uplifting story in a series of verbatim and remembered moments. Followed by a panel discussion chaired by Sue Brayne, including Bridget Taylor, a palliative care nurse at Sobell House, Dr Laura Middleton from Helen and Douglas House and Sue Westwood from Oxford Befriending at End of Life.
- Life and Death – a discussion by thinkers and writers of the question, ‘What is a good life and how should we live it?’
- The Bonn Square Fair – an unusual funeral exhibition where you can chat to undertakers, bespoke and alternative coffin makers, natural burial ground managers and others.
- Putting your House in Order – a workshop on will writing, power of attorney and advance decisions to refuse treatment.
- Light at the end of the tunnel – an interview with Dr Penny Sartori who conducted a long-term study of near-death experiences.
- Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a discussion for those directly affected or simply concerned about the current rising number of cases of suicide.
For more information visit the Kicking the Bucket website.