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Discussing Death and Dying Creatively. Olwen Minford End of Life Care Facilitator Integrative Arts Psychotherapist Culture Health and Wellbeing Conference June 2013.

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discussing death and dying creatively
Discussing Death and Dying Creatively

Olwen Minford

End of Life Care Facilitator

Integrative Arts Psychotherapist

Culture Health and Wellbeing Conference

June 2013

i didn t want that
“I didn’t want that”

Dying Matters video


  • Do you want to have a say ?
  • Have you made a will?
  • Where do you want to be cared for and to die?
  • Burial or cremation?
  • Any other wishes for end of life?
discussing your wishes
Discussing your wishes?
  • How comfortable are you talking about death?
  • Have you discussed your wishes about Eolc with another person?
  • Only 29% of us have talked about their wishes (Dying Matters, 2009)
  • 75 yrs+ talk most (but even among this group conversations are not common)
  • 200 in English language-practice of using euphemisms to do with belief that to speak the word death was to invite death
  • Examples “kick the bucket”
death denying society
Death Denying Society
  • Death, Dying, Dead→ Unconscious expression through language
dismantling the taboo
Dismantling the taboo

As many poets and writers have talked about death as birth

Death as lonely & isolating or sorrowful, happy

Can be a social event- a drama with people playing roles

  • Walt Whitman “Come lovely and soothing death”
  • Ben Franklyn “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”
  • Francis bacon “Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark”
  • Bible“ the valley of the shadow of death”

“the angel of death”

“ the last enemy”

  • Henry Holland “Death is nothing at all”
beliefs influences
Beliefs & Influences
  • Historical→Current Co-op approach
  • Medicalisation & Professionalisation of Death
  • Religious →All faiths and none. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh
  • Cultural influences→Staithes. Covering Mirrors/pictures. Bengali tradition of going home to die.
  • Traditional customs→women not attending graveside. S. Africa-HIV
  • Post card exercise- choose one to symbolise what/how you currently feel about death
  • Share in pairs
  • Feedback
end of life care strategy 2008
End of Life Care Strategy (2008)
  • Advance Care Planning (ACP)
  • 5 things to do before I die
a good death contentious
A Good Death? Contentious

4 aims of an appropriate death (Weisman, 1972)

  • Reducing but not necessarily eliminating conflict.
  • Making dying people’s dying compatible with their own views of themselves and their achievements.
  • Preserving or restoring relationships as much as possible
  • Fulfilling some of the dying person’s expressed aims.
poem for everyman by john wood
Poem for Everyman by John Wood

I will present you parts of my self slowly if you are patient and tender. I will open drawers that mostly stay closed and bring out places and people and things sounds and smells, loves and frustrations, hopes and sadness, bits and pieces of three decades of life that have been grabbed off in chunks and found lying in my hands. they have eaten their way into my memory, carved their way into my heart. altogether-you or I will never see them- they are me. If you regard them lightly, deny they are important or worse judge them I will quietly, slowly, begin to wrap them up, in small pieces of velvet, like worn silver and gold jewellery, tuck them away in a small wooden chest of drawers

and close.