There are hundreds of coffee mornings, arts shows, open days and events taking place across the UK as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week (May 8-14).
Here are seven diary dates taking place that aim to tackle taboos, make you smile and consider how death’s a part of everyone’s life at some point – so why not become a part of the conversation?
Meet Grief Works author Julia Samuel, Exeter
Sunday Times bestseller writer Julia Samuel will be talking about the stories of life, death and surviving she has explored in her acclaimed book, Grief Works. Julia, who is the founder patron of charity Childhood Bereavement UK, is a grief psychotherapist who drew on her patients’ experience of loss to write this companion book through bereavement. It explores how grief, if approached correctly, may even heal us. An Evening With Julia Samuel is taking place at Waterstones, Exeter on May 8.
Visit the Unfair, Kirkstall, West Yorkshire
Roll up, roll up, to this family-friendly event at Kirkstall Abbey, a mini-carnival with sideshows and games that will enable you to let off steam. Attractions and activities at the Unfair include an Angry Karaoke sing along and Angry Jenga. Great fun as well as thought-provoking, this interactive arts project also explores what we can do with our anger, asking whether we can channel it into something useful.
This event, being held from May 9 to 14, is part of Leeds-based artist Ellie Harrison’s Grief Series of projects, which are based on the seven stages of grief that psychologists believe many people undergo when they are bereaved.
Memento Mori flag making, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
Bring along photos and fabrics which remind you of something or someone that you have lost and create a memento mori flag in tribute to them. Byw Nawr (Dying Matters) in Pembrokeshire is hosting this creative community session at the Memorial Hall in Haverfordwest on May 9.
Tickets cost £2 and the session is part of Pushing up the Daisies, Pembrokeshire's Festival of living and dying, which is being held to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week and has a packed events programme.
Lifting the curtain on death in Leeds and Sheffield
Actor Tess Cartwright’s experience of shared moments with her late partner Vid Warren, is the basis for a dark comedy which lifts the lid on death and grief. Touring theatre company Modest Genius will be performing Dying to Please You at Open Source Arts centre in Leeds on May 10 and Sheffield, May 11.
Read more about Tess and Vid’s story in our blog, which details how the play took shape and more tour dates and venues.
Using archaeology to discuss death, Bradford
Could understanding the way that people looked at death and dying in the past, help us to open up conversations we find difficult to handle?
This fascinating workshop will explore the often-taboo subject of death in our own modern world, from the perspective of our ancestors’ beliefs and traditions. It will explore why we often leave conversations about loved-one’s wishes unspoken, or left until the last minute. Could archaeology can help us to become more matter-of-fact?
This free event for Dying Matters Awareness week on May 12, is part of a two-year archaeology and healthcare project between the University of Bradford, where it is being held, and the LOROS Hospice in Leicester. Visit the website to register to attend.
Send a letter to a loved one, Todmorden, West Yorkshire
If you left things unsaid when a loved one died, putting pen to paper might be one way to unburden your mind of thoughts that can keep you awake at night. As part of Todmorden’s Pushing Up Daisies community festival during Dying Matters Awareness Week, anyone can send a letter to a loved one who is no longer alive, via the town’s post office.
Letters will be kept unopened and safe until Saturday May 13, when they will be given a beautiful send off at a Fiery Funeral Feast, being held at the Unitarian Church. If you live locally, you can attend the event from 7pm, which will also include a feast of funeral food, folk music and singing.
- You can send your letters to: The Last Post, Todmorden Post office, 7 Brook Street Todmorden, OL14 5AJ, or drop them in at the counter.
Make your own funeral wreath, Birmingham
Don't fancy your name spelled in chrysanthemums at your funeral? Artisan florist and grower Carole Patilla of Kings Norton-based Tuckshop Flowers will be leading a creative floristry session at arts centre Mac Birmingham on May 14, to come up with something that tells the story of your life.
You’ll be able to share ideas as part of a group, to come up with naturally beautiful floral tributes that represent the essence of how you'd like your own life to be celebrated when the time comes.
- Discover more Dying Matters Awareness Week events near you on the organisation's interactive map.