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Demystifying Death Week takes place across Scotland

Demystifying Death Week takes place this week (10-16 May), shining a light on death, dying and bereavement in Scotland.

Why?

People usually want to do the right thing when someone they know is caring, dying or grieving. But often they can feel awkward offering help, or worry about making things worse.

People can have questions about serious illness or death. But often they don't know who to ask.

Making plans when you’re healthy means there is less to think about when you’re ill. But often people put off making plans until it is too late.

Demystifying Death week is about giving people knowledge, skills and opportunities to plan and support each other through death, dying, loss and care.

Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief

The week was initiated by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief – a charity-led collaboration of more than 1000 individuals and organisations that want Scotland to be a place where people can be open about and plan for death, dying and bereavement.

“If people know a bit more about death and dying, they’re in a better position to take control of their own situation, support others, make plans and have informed decisions about what they’d want when the time comes.” said Rebecca Patterson, Director of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief.

“Sometimes people worry about things, like what to say to someone who’s been bereaved, or being refused CPR. Perhaps having more information about these could help people worry less.

“There are lots of resources out there that provide information, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to look. We want to make this information easier for people to get at, and we’ll sharing a lot of it this week using the hashtag #DemystifyDeath.”

This will include information on the kinds of preparations people can make if they are worried their health may get worse, for example by making a Power of Attorney and talking to the people close to them about an anticipatory care plan. They will also be sharing tips on how ordinary people can provide informal support to a friend or family member who is caring, dying or grieving, and places people can go for more formal support.

New short films

The week sees the launch of six short films, each aiming to demystify a different aspect of death, dying or bereavement. The ‘60 second shorts’ tackle head-on questions such as ‘What do children want to know about death?’, ‘How can I support a young person who’s bereaved?’ and ‘How might someone’s breathing change when they are dying?’.

Events

As well as an online media campaign, various online events are taking place during the week, for example, Say Something Dundee has plans for a Conversation Café, inviting locals to join in a relaxed, informal discussion around local experiences of death, dying, loss and care. The Compassionate Friends invites people to Say their name, to learn more about how to support parents and siblings who have been bereaved. A community in North Berwick will be welcoming community members to an online Armchair Chat, with a combination of music, discussion and input from Kathryn Mannix, author of the book With the end in mind.

A full list of events is available here: https://www.goodlifedeathgrief.org.uk/blogs/demystifying-death-week-2021/

“We’re often told that death is a ‘taboo’ – something that people don’t want to talk about.’ said Rebecca Patterson, Director of GLGDGG. ‘But surveys show that in Scotland most people are actually fairly comfortable talking about death. Perhaps the right opportunities just don’t present themselves. Demystifying Death week is a chance to open up about death, air these topics and become a bit better at supporting each other through these difficult times.”

60 second shorts aim to Demystify Death

This week, Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief has launched six films.

Each lasts around 60 seconds, and aims to demystify a different question about death, dying or bereavement.

What do children want to know about death?

Dr Sally Paul, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Strathclyde, explores what children what to know about death and how adults can help.

How can I support a young person who is bereaved?

Denisha Killoh from the National Childhood Bereavement Co-ordinator Project, shares her experiences of being bereaved as a teenager.

How might someone’s breathing change when they are dying?

Dr Kathryn Mannix, palliative care doctor and author, explains how someone's breathing might change as they approach the end of life.

I think my health might get worse… what plans should I make?

Dr Judith Marshall, GP in NHS Glasgow, explains some of the plans someone should make if they expect their health to deteriorate.

What do I need to know about CPR?

Dr Juliet Spiller, palliative care consultant at the Marie Curie Edinburgh hospice, explains a little about cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and why having a 'do not attempt cardio-pulmonary resuscitation' form can be important for some people.

If I become too ill to make my own decisions, who will make decisions for me?

Dorothy Kellas, solicitor at Gilson Gray, explains the importance of granting someone you trust a power of attorney so they can make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make decisions yourself.

All the films are available to view here: Demystifying Death 60 second shorts.

Digital Event Resource Pack Launched

A new resource pack has been launched to support people to hold digital events as part of Demystifying Death Week.

Taking place from 10-16 May, Demystifying Death Week is about shining a light on death, dying and bereavement in Scotland.

Since the first death awareness week back in 2013, each May, people across Scotland organise local events giving people the chance to talk about death, dying and bereavement.

Organising face-to-face events has become impossible for a while, but the need for opportunities to discuss death, dying and bereavement is more relevant than ever.

Produced by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, the new Digital Event Resource Pack is designed to make it easier for individuals and organisations to hold online events.

It includes outline event programmes, films and resources on four themes: What happens when someone is dying?; Planning ahead; Death in times of covid-19; Caring for the carer.

Also included in the pack is a guide to hosting digital events, with tips on how to plan, host and facilitate a digital event.

GLGDGG is also offering members in Scotland free use of a Zoom Pro account to hold an event during Demystifying Death Week, including: video conferencing, password protected entry and breakout rooms.

All these resources are is designed to support small group discussions over zoom, with input and facilitation from local experts.

Please get in touch if you'd like more information about organising an event as part of Demystifying Death Week, and check out the Digital Event Resource Pack here.

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Bereavement Charter for Scotland
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