I'm chairing a 'Big Conversation' event on Wednesday afternoon at st Laurence Church in Reading that aims to highlight the importance of talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement.
The three-hour event will provide people with support on planning ahead - whether for family members or themselves - and how to start those big conversations. It will also provide space for people to reflect on the issues the subject raises.
The afternoon runs between 1.30pm and 4.30pm, and will feature speakers covering a range of topics that link into the themes of breaking the taboo on death. A group of people from a variety of backgrounds have been working on four themes, and the event is going ot reflect that.
• Practical Issues (things like wills, powers of attorney and expressed wishes; registering a death, funerals and crematoriums; organ donation)
• Health and Social Care: (including palliative care)
• Spiritual Considerations (religious, spiritual needs and family bereavement)
• Community Support: welfare rights; other bereavement services
I am so determined that we can help people to have a better end: the end of our story is an important part of our story and we have one chance to get it right.
By holding the Big Conversation I'm hoping to help people get this difficult, but necessary conversation started and to then share it more widely.
None of us likes to think about dying, but not talking about it won’t make it go away – any more than talking about dying will make it happen sooner. Having the big conversation can help you to live well and to make the most of life until the very end. The key message is don’t leave it too late to plan ahead – and do tell those closest to you about your wishes.
I'm delighted by the number of organisations attending and supporting the Big Conversation event including: Sue Ryder Palliative Care Services (Duchess of Kent Hospice), Alexander Devine Children’s Palliative Care Services, Local NHS providers including a local GP, Age UK Reading, Berkshire Carers, Blandy & Blandy Solicitors, A.B. Walker & Son Ltd Funeral Directors, Cruse, Citizens Advice Bureau, Berkshire Carers Hub, Huunuu Funeral Services, Jasmine House Nursing Home, My Care My Home (advice & support service for self-funders) and Reading Borough Council.