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Healthier Futures - End of life care

We need to talk about dying

Passing away, passing on, falling asleep, departing this world… we use lots of different words to try to avoid talking about death and dying. It’s something that will happen to us all one day, but we are often reluctant to face the facts, so we use other words and phrases to avoid saying the word ‘dying’.

Death often isn’t an easy subject to talk about, but we’ve put together a short film which can help us all to start having discussions with the people we love.

“There are lots of things we might want to talk about when it comes to the end of our lives,” says Dr Anna Lock, a consultant in palliative care medicine working in the Black Country and West Birmingham.  “Many people will have made a will so that their financial wishes are recorded and their families aren’t presented with money worries at the worst time, but other things can be even more important than that.  Would we prefer to die at home or in hospital?  What sort of funeral would we like?  If we don’t talk about dying, our loved ones won’t know what we want.”

For many people, the decision to talk about what we want in the event of our death comes as a result of a life change.  Getting married or civilly partnered, moving house, having children, the death of a loved one, or a serious health concern … these are common triggers for conversations about death and dying.

But it’s not all about planning: there are other conversations we need to have, too.  “I’ve been to funerals where someone’s spoken very generously about the person who’s died,” says John Homer, a community advocate for people with long-term and life-limiting conditions.  “But I often wonder whether the people who are there had told their loved one how much they meant to them.  It makes their passing a bit easier, because they know that memories of them will live on.”

You can listen to more of what Anna and John have to say about preparing for death and dying.


Resources to help you and your family

We have compiled some resources to help you and your family talk about death and dying.  We’ve split them into sections, to help you find the right help at the right time.

Dealing with death 

Local palliative and end of life support services:

Talking with someone else about dying

No Barriers Here

No Barriers Here is a unique and innovative approach to advance care planning for people with learning disabilities and a collaboration between The Mary Stevens Hospice, Dudley Voices for Choice, and Art Psychotherapist, Jed Jerwood.

No Barriers Here was co-produced by people with learning disabilities and explored the use of art-making to create and support conversations about death and dying, discovering what matters most to people at the end of life. Gently guided through four distinctive workshops, participants shared their narratives using arts-based methods such as collage, textiles and weaving to shape creative, distinctive, and truly personalised advance care plans. We hope that this film can be used to challenge any misconceptions around talking about death and dying with people with learning disabilities and support the idea that using arts approaches in palliative care can shape rich conversations within our communities and challenge inequalities underserved populations experience.

For more information about No Barriers Here or to express an interest in attending Train the Trainer workshops, please contact Gemma Allen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow the project on Twitter @NoBarriersHere

Once someone has died

Many of us don’t have a personal experience of bereavement until we are quite old. We may find that we struggle to know what to say to someone who has been bereaved. We may worry that we may say the wrong thing and add to someone’s distress. Dudley bereavement team have worked with their local community & have made a short film for Grief Awareness week & a bereavement kindness toolkit to help people find the words to support people.

Local authority bereavement services:

Dudley 01384 813970

Sandwell 0121 569 6700

Walsall 01922 650000

Wolverhampton 01902 554865 / 07976 708790

Compassionate communities 

For professionals

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