good life, good death, good grief

Scottish Compassionate Communities Toolkit

Death Revue

Participants at Ayr Good Life Good Death Good Grief Day

There are many ways to host a themed event in your community to get them thinking, talking and taking action.

Book a hall or community space for an afternoon, evening or even all day. Invite some people to talk or perform, then invite the community to come along. They can be very popular, like the Ayr Town Hall event pictured.

You could call it a "Death Revue" if it contains performances or a "Death Roadshow" if not. Elements you might include as part of the event are:


Make contact with local groups beforehand inviting them to your event - try to visit group meetings if possible, for example carers, or elderly groups to let them know about it. Or even better, find one or two local organisations to arrange the event with you eg Citizens Advice Bureau - then there's the potential all their volunteers and networks will get involved too!


Many professionals are only too happy to share their wisdom and experience about end-of-life matters. Here's a few suggestions of who you might approach within your own community, or speak to GLGDGG if you want further suggestions:

Lawyers - Local solicitors' firms will be able to explain and demystify Wills, Power of Attorney and Advance Directives for the layperson. Ask if one of them would run a session at your event.

Funeral Directors - By trade, they're good at dealing sensitively with this issue in front of people. They often have wisdom to offer about how to do and how not to do things.

Medical Professionals - Palliative care doctors and nurses will offer insight into what life is like at the end. GPs might also be happy to share their experiences. Approaching your local hospice is a good place to start.

Ministers/Celebrants - Not everyone has a faith, but local church ministers (or other faith leaders) can be interesting speakers. Equally, non-religious celebrants might like to share their experiences of conducting funerals.

Doulas and others - There's a growing movement of new and alternative ways to support people at the end of life, including Doulas (people offering non-medical wellbeing support), Threshold Choirs (groups singing to those who are dying), Digital Legacy Providers and those offering alternatives to traditional death rituals and burials. See if there's any in your area.


Stories can be a great way to engage people with a subject and there are many different ways to tell those stories through performance. If you have a small budget for the event, you might be able to book an artist to perform. GLGDGG have often featured performers in our events. Take a look back through our Death on the Fringe and To Absent Friends archives to see who we've featured.

Spoken Word - Poetry can be very powerful and lends itself very well to reflections on life and death. Many towns and cities in Scotland have a healthy spoken word scene so check local listings for a suitable poet. The Scottish Poetry Library is also a great resource. Maybe dig out some poems and give performance a go yourself!

Theatre - Many of the great plays touch on death in some way and new writers can be inspired to write works based on death or grief that they have experienced. Maybe your local am-dram group could be persuaded to perform a scene or two or ask your local theatre if they know of anyone with suitable material.

Music - Songs of reflection or remembrance can be very effective. Instrumental music can be used to welcome people or as background if refreshments are being served. But a dedicated singer or choir adds a special touch.

Comedy - An unlikely choice, but many stand-ups do material about this most serious of subjects. For some people, dark humour is one way of approaching the topic and comedians are always looking for gigs. Again check listings, or search out a local comedy promoter.


If you have space, why not host an exhibition? Visual prompts can provoke thoughts and conversations and GLGDGG has a series of exhibitions designed for that very purpose.

It Takes A Village - A powerful and challenging series of portraits and personal stories by Glasgow based photographer Colin Gray. It Takes a Village explores the idea that as people’s health deteriorates, care and support comes in many guises.

To Absent Friends - For use around our To Absent Friends festival in November, this is a series of stirring images on the theme of remembrance.

Essence of a Memory - These exhibitions were created from entries to our To Absent Friends photo competition. They feature images and memories of loved ones who have died. Also most appropriate around the To Absent Friends festival.

They're all freely available for use (with a small charge to cover delivery).

Death Cafe

Create a space for discussion to happen over teas and coffees. (Of course, refreshments are always a good idea, whatever style of event you do!) Death Cafes, as they are called, have proved very popular. People gather at tables and share their thoughts and feelings about the end of life. Our Dining With Death conversation menu can be used as a prompt. Switch tables after each "course" to keep the conversation flowing.

Information Stalls

People love to have things to take away so they can mull them over in their own time. You can order a range of information leaflets from GLGDGG (there's a small cost price charge to cover printing and P&P). Other handouts which could be useful are the Age UK Lifebook and the Final Checklist from Australia's Groundswell Project.

Speak to local care homes, older people's charities, service providers and other organisations to see if they'd be interested in running a stall.


Any number of activities can prompt people to think about the topic and be spurred into action. Create a Before I Die wall. Have a go with our Advance Care Planning origami game. Or create your own craft activities.

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