Bereaved helped by openness about death

15 May 2012
Talking more openly about dying will give support to people who are bereaved, the Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition Eve Richardson told delegates at a national bereavement conference on 15 May.

The Small Actions, Big Difference conference at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham has been organised by the Birmingham Bereavement Partnership Project and takes place during Dying Matters Awareness Week (14-20 May).

As new ComRes research for Awareness Week has this week found, although more than half of people in Britain have been bereaved in the last five years, more than two-thirds (71%) of the public and three-quarters (79%) of GPs agree that we're uncomfortable discussing dying, death and bereavement. This could lead to people not getting their end of life wishes met.

People who have been bereaved may also be left without vital support. The research found that just one in four people who have been bereaved say they received the support they needed, over a third of people say they wouldn’t be able to afford the funeral if someone close to them were to die tomorrow and almost a quarter wouldn’t know how to organise a funeral .

Speaking today, Eve Richardson, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care, said: “I am delighted such an important conference on bereavement is being held during Dying Matters Awareness Week. Talking more openly about dying and discussing our end of life wishes can benefit all of us, especially people who have been bereaved. Ensuring bereavement support has a higher agenda is so important, as our research shows just 25 per cent of people who have been bereaved received the support they needed. That’s why the Dying Matters Coalition will be working with the Bereavement Alliance and the National End of Life Programme, so that together we can make this a reality.”

Dr Dawn Chaplin, Director of the Birmingham Bereavement Project, one of the founder members of the Bereavement Alliance, and Vice Chair of the Bereavement Services Association, added: “The first 48 hours following the death of someone significant can be one of the most bewildering and emotive times of a person’s life, with legal requirements for certification and registration competing with emotional responses to loss.

"Talking more openly about dying can make a real difference by helping to ensure people who have been bereaved know where to turn for practical and emotional support, which is why the work of the Dying Matters Coalition is so important and why at the Bereavement Alliance we are so pleased that we will be working closely together on bereavement issues.”

More

Full report - Brits paying price for refusal to talk about dying 

'Last Laugh' - Alexei Sayle confronts attitudes towards terminal illness and humour

'I didn't want that' - Dying Matters' powerful new film 

Small Actions: Big Difference - photography exhibition

 

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‘How people die remains in the memory of those who live on.’

Dame Cicely Saunders (founder of the modern hospice movement)

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