A week-long event series of events which explore death, dying and bereavement through the performing arts kicks off today at Mountbatten hospice on the Isle of Wight.
The Art of Dying Well festival is aimed at encouraging people to talk openly about death and dying, challenging the taboo and supporting people to have healthy conversations about the one sure thing that affects us all.
The programme has been created by the team of end of life experts at Mountbatten, with associates from the arts, commerce and all corners of the community.
A number of events will be held throughout the week. They include an open mic night, but with a difference, providing the opportunity for those attending to think about songs they would want played at their funeral.
There will also be the Mountbatten Festival Concert – featuring Mountbatten Community Choir and an additional showing of Steven Eastwood’s film ISLAND – a sensitive portrayal of death, told through the stories of staff and people supported by Mountbatten.
Other events will include a “Death Chat”- offering people the opportunity to talk over a cuppa about any issues relating to death and dying, with Mountbatten experts who can offer support and guidance.
And on Friday the Mountbatten Annual Conference will take place– exploring the ways in which care of the dying is changing, and how health and social care professionals must rapidly adapt to cater for the needs of our ageing population. Speakers include health commentator Roy Lilley, Mountbatten CEO Nigel Hartley and joint CEO at St Christopher’s Hospice, London, Heather Richardson.
Commenting on the festival, Nigel Hartley, Mountbatten Chief Executive said: “For many of us, death and dying are taboo subjects that we brush under the carpet and, most of all fear. Fear, denial and lack of knowledge may get in the way of dying well – planning our exit ahead means less uncertainty where we have choices and, for those we leave behind, more comfort knowing that they will be carrying out our wishes.
“I hope that this first edition of The Art of Dying Well will encourage more people to feel supported to start having important conversations, using the medium of arts and performance. I would like to thank the wide range of people who have been involved in supporting us to make this week happen and, because we believe it is such a vital issue, we are expecting to build on it in future and make it an annual event.”
The festival runs until Sunday 4 November. For more information visit the Mountbatten website