Dying Matters celebrates Day of the Dead
Held in Macmillan Hall, University of London, the afternoon featured a series of presentations on Dying Matters community initiatives, as well as round table discussions, an art exhibition and a personal reflection on what the Day of the Dead means.
Lewisham Pensioners' Forum opened the gathering by talking about their collaborative work with Dying Matters. The group promotes the importance of end of life discussions not just through their network of 1,300 elderly people, but through public events in shopping centres and People’s Day in Lewisham.
Later on in the afternoon, Bolton Dying Matters Awareness Group's Carmel Wiseman spoke about the risk the group took in commissioning a film featuring comedians talking about death to promote Dying Matters Awareness Week in May. Dying for a Laugh, which featured Ardal O'Hanlon and Jenny Eclair among others, was, she admitted, not to everyone's taste, but it got people talking about death which was the key aim.
Schoolchildren from Haberdashers Aske’s Hatcham College in London spoke about what death means to them. One young girl talked about her father, who had died several years before. He could speak 14 languages, she stated proudly, three of them fluently.
Delegates had been encouraged to bring a photo of a deceased loved one to place on the Day of the Dead altar (pictured).
The event ended with a personal, and at times emotional, talk by a Mexican woman and her English husband on what the Day of the Dead means to Mexicans. "We bring food and flowers to the grave, we sit and talk to them," she said.
The event's chair, Tony Bonser, end of life campaigner and chair of NCPC's People in Partnership Steering Group, described the event as "Wonderful."
He added: "Now it's time to spread the word. Don't wait for the government's rules and plans. Things grow from the ground up. We can make a difference where we are. We can change lives. Let's do it!"