Dying Matters Awareness Week 2-6 May 2022

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Let's get talking ..

Dying Matters Awareness Week is an opportunity to encourage communities to get talking about death, dying and bereavement in whatever way, shape or form works for them. 

The Covid-19 pandemic meant many more people experienced the loss of a loved one, many at home and without access to the emotional and practical support they needed.  Never before has opening up conversations about death and talking to friends, relatives and loved ones in advance been so important.

The theme of Dying Matters Awareness Week is the importance of being in a good place to die – physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually and digitally. There is no right or wrong place to die; it will be different for everyone. But it is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it.

Raising awareness of bereavement and loss

As part of the Compassionate Communities West Sussex approach, West Sussex County Council has produced two short videos to raise awareness of bereavement and loss and to support people in having conversations about bereavement and loss, and commissioned Citizens Advice to undertake engagement with ethnic minority communities about their experience of bereavement and loss.

  • Talking about bereavement and loss animation - A short introduction to a journey through bereavement and loss, highlighting how friends and people in the community can connect with someone who has been bereaved, and offer help and support.
  • Supporting someone who is grieving - Nicky Hitchcock from the As you Are Centre in Southwick talks about how people experience bereavement and loss, and provides some ideas of what you can say or do to support someone who is grieving.
  • Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North South East) have published their community engagement report Supporting communities through bereavement and loss, about the experience of bereavement and loss in ethnically diverse communities.  The report identifies five community-led recommendations to improve the experience of bereavement and support available to ethnic minority communities in West Sussex: developing an integrated approach to improve access to services; ensuring information resources are accessible, centrally available and widely promoted; sharing information amongst local trusted sources; increasing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, and widely promoting a culture that supports talking about death more openly.

Local events and seminars 

To mark this national awareness week organisations in West Sussex are holding a range of events and seminars. Events are free to access, and will help residents to develop knowledge, skills and understanding around death, dying, bereavement and loss. These include:

  • Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors – A Way Forward

This event will offer space to acknowledge the challenges we have all faced since the start of the pandemic, but will focus on how to move forwards healthily and positively. Life and Bereavement Coach, Amanda Jones, will lead the session, which will incorporate a short mindfulness exercise. Refreshments will also be available. Places must be booked in advance.

Meet the hospice team and enjoy refreshments at Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint.

Freeman Brothers Hurstpierpoint, 5th May, 2.00pm – 5.00pm

Email Chrissie for more information.

  • West Sussex Libraries

East Grinstead Library - 4th May (10am-3pm) – St. Catherine’s Hospice drop-in and information stand on the theme Dying Matters #InAGoodPlace

There will also be book displays in some West Sussex libraries, including Chichester and East Grinstead, promoting the wide range of books available about death, dying and bereavement – including fiction and non-fiction, practical support manuals, memoirs, poetry and books for children and young people.

For downloadable book lists and bereavement support resources, access the West Sussex libraries Bereavement Support page. Your local library can also print out copies of the Dying Matters information leaflets for you.

  • Dying Matters Week events in Brighton and Hove

There are several sociable events across the city centred round having a chat with a ‘cuppa’ where advice is offered and conversation encouraged on subjects often otherwise avoided, in a relaxed informal setting, as well as training on the four stages of dying, designing your funeral, preparing to say goodbye, poetry and more. For more information, see the Brighton and Hove City Council website.

Other useful resources from local organisations:

    • local support and practical, accessible resources to help you when someone dies
    • benefits and other financial support you may be able to access
    • help with funeral costs
    • an online tour of the resources available from the West Sussex Library Service.

Online events

  • Good Grief – a virtual festival of love and loss

The aim of the Good Grief festival is to normalise the conversation around grief and show that it is a natural – and even transformative – part of life instead of something to be feared and locked away.

Good Grief online events during Dying Matters Awareness Week include:

  • Mon 2nd May, 12pm – Children, grief and creativity
  • Wed 4th May, 12pm – Nothing echoes here: empathetic aesthetics in short fiction film-making
  • Thurs 5th May, 12pm – Lost property: therapeutic creativity and the stuff of grief
  • Fri 6th May, 12pm – These four walls: grief in the pandemic – premier

A space for communities to reflect

During the week following Dying Matters Awareness Week, 9th to 13th of May, a meaningful art installation will be travelling around West Sussex to recognise those lost to Covid during the past two years and to help people to reflect and celebrate their lives.

Local charity Dementia Support has been working in partnership with West Sussex County Council and The Selsey Community Forum to purchase 200 steel forget-me-nots from Chi-Africa. The aim is to help provide a space for communities to come together to share their grief in a meaningful way after lockdowns prevented them from doing so at the time, with many not getting the chance to say goodbye.

The installation will visit Crawley, Horsham, Burgess Hill, Worthing, and will end the week at Chichester Festival Theatre on 13th May. The forget-me-knots will then be distributed to the communities for permanent installation.

For more information, see the Sussex Local Magazine website.