The awareness weeks – championed by the Dying Matters Coalition in England and Wales and Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief in Scotland – aim to get people talking about death and dying.
Research for Dying Matters has found that many people have specific wishes about their end of life care or what they would like to happen to them after their death, but a reluctance to discuss these issues makes it much less likely that these will be met.
So throughout the week, Dying Matters is encouraging people to have ‘the big conversation’; to talk to their friends and family about their wishes.
Claire Henry, chief executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care, explains: “Every minute someone in England dies, but many people still feel uncomfortable talking about end of life issues.
“Talking about dying, death and bereavement is in everyone’s interests as it can help ensure that all of us can get the care and support we want, where we want it, at the end of our lives.”
Every day this week, between 1-2pm GMT, Dying Matters (@DyingMatters) is hosting a Tweetchat on a variety of topics relating to dying, death and bereavement. Find out more on the Dying Matters website.
In Scotland, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief is focusing on the amazing things that ordinary people do every day to look after the people the care about.
Whether it is looking after an aging parent, working as a nurse, or cooking a meal for a bereaved neighbour, every day, people help each other through the difficult times that can come with death, dying and bereavement.
“We all know that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child, but what is less well recognised that it also ‘takes a village’ to support someone who is dying, and their family,” explains Mark Hazelwood, chief executive of the Scottish Partnership of Palliative Care.
As part of the week, an exhibition of portraits – which aims to highlight how it takes a village to support someone at the end of life – will be on display at a number of hospices, hospitals and libraries.
Hospices up and down the country are getting involved in the week in a number of ways – holding death cafés, workshops and other events to encourage local people to think and talk about death and their wishes for when their time comes.
Keech Hospice chatted to a group of 4 and 5 years olds to find out what they think happens when we die. The responses were varied, funny and incredibly cute – and the hospice hopes the film will help raise awareness in a light and heart-warming way, opening up conversations about dying rather than scaring people into silence. [You can watch the results above.]
Over the week, Earl Moutbatten Hospice will also be putting out a series of short films made by hospice staff, covering subjects such as the importance of planning for a funeral, making a will and coping with loss.
While a number of ‘Before I die …’ chalkboards are popping up in various locations, LOROS are taking to the city and county with a ‘Before I die’ cube, asking people what is on their bucket list, and hoping to kick-start a ‘big conversation’.
In Birmingham a group of local citizens, community organisations, hospices, doctors and undertakers (@BrumYODO) have joined forces are have a range of activities planned – including a ‘death disco’ on Saturday which aims to celebrate life (and raise money for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice).
These are just a few examples of events taking place this week – we will be covering others on ehospice UK during the week and you can find out what else is going on near you on the Dying Matters website and the Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief website.