We need to talk about dying 

Passing away, passing on, falling asleep, departing this world… we use lots of different words to try to avoid talking about death and dying. It’s something that will happen to us all one day, but we are often reluctant to face the facts, so we use other words and phrases to avoid saying the word ‘dying’. 

Death often isn’t an easy subject to talk about, but we’ve put together a short film which can help us all to start having discussions with the people we love. 

For many people, the decision to talk about what we want in the event of our death comes as a result of a life change. Getting married or civilly partnered, moving house, having children, the death of a loved one, or a serious health concern … these are common triggers for conversations about death and dying. 

Dr Anna Lock, a consultant in palliative care medicine working in the Black Country, and John Homer, a community advocate for people with long-term and life-limiting conditions, chat about preparing for death and dying. 

End of life care and support

The NHS has produced an online guide for people who are approaching the end of their life. Some parts of it may also be useful for people who are caring for someone who is dying, or people who want to plan for their own end of life care.

It covers what to expect, thinking about your wishes for your future care, and looking after your emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Visit nhs.uk here to view their online guide.

In the Black Country, we’re clear that the care you get in your final days should be of the same quality, no matter where you live. That’s why local health and care providers have developed a new shared strategy on palliative and end-of-life care.

Resources to help you and your family 

Here are some resources to help you and your family talk about death and dying. We’ve split them into sections, to help you find the right help at the right time.

No Barriers Here 

No Barriers Here is a unique and innovative approach to advance care planning for people with learning disabilities and a collaboration between The Mary Stevens Hospice, Dudley Voices for Choice, and Art Psychotherapist, Jed Jerwood. 

No Barriers Here was co-produced by people with learning disabilities and explored the use of art-making to create and support conversations about death and dying, discovering what matters most to people at the end of life. Gently guided through four distinctive workshops, participants shared their narratives using arts-based methods such as collage, textiles and weaving to shape creative, distinctive, and truly personalised advance care plans. We hope that this film can be used to challenge any misconceptions around talking about death and dying with people with learning disabilities and support the idea that using arts approaches in palliative care can shape rich conversations within our communities and challenge inequalities underserved populations experience. 

For more information about No Barriers Here or to express an interest in attending Train the Trainer workshops, please contact Gemma Allen at gemma.allen@marystevenshospice.co.uk Follow the project on Twitter @NoBarriersHere 

Once someone has died 

Many of us don’t have a personal experience of bereavement until we are quite old. We may find that we struggle to know what to say to someone who has been bereaved. We may worry that we may say the wrong thing and add to someone’s distress.  

Dudley bereavement team have worked with their local community & have made a short film for Grief Awareness week & a bereavement kindness toolkit to help people find the words to support people. 

Local authority bereavement services: 

Dudley 01384 813970 

Sandwell 0121 569 6700 

Walsall 01922 650000 

Wolverhampton 01902 554865 / 07976 708790 

Compassionate communities  

For professionals 

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