This week is Dying Matters Week, an initiative started several years ago in recognition of the need to ‘get the public talking about death, dying and bereavement’. I remember at the beginning of the formation of the Dying Matters Coalition, what an enormous and insurmountable task that felt! I was a Trustee at the time of a National Charity who were tasked with leading the coalition, and as with anything I do, I got right behind the initiative, we organised a whole week of events here a the Hospice and if I’m honest we made very little impact.
I’m really pleased to see how things have progressed over the years, and in some areas of the country, Dying Matters Week has become a well established part of the local calendar owned by all the community, with Arts Events, Death Café’s, education events, talks and lectures; #BRUMYODO is a fantastic example of what can be achieved to help people talk about and plan for death so that they can get on with living.
But experience has taught me, that people already over associate Hospices with death and dying, not life and living and I truly think that in order for Dying Matters week to be a success, it needs to be owned by the whole community, with citizens from all communities, local artists, voluntary groups all playing a part. That’s why we launched our End of Life Charter 2 years ago in Dying Matters Week and why it’s so great to see events happening in Woolwich Town Hall, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust this year. The Hospice has supported some of these events this year, but we have taken more of a back seat. Next year we will be up and running with our new Compassionate Neighbours Programme, which is all about talking, planning and living as well as the theme of dying matters week this year: #whatcanyoudo? How about we really go for it next year and look at doing a much more ambitious and creative local programme? If you would like to get involved, by helping at an event, running an event helping to develop a programme, please do let me know.