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Between the 2 and 6 May 2022 on Dying Matters Awareness Week, the Michael Sobell Hospice and Harlington Hospice have been starting conversations about death to support people in facing the challenging realities of dying and grief.

At the hospices’ sites in both Northwood and Harlington, displays were set up inviting people using the hospice services and staff to fill out cards asking, “What is your favourite book or film about death, dying or grief?” and “What stops you talking about death, dying and your grief?”.

Additionally, all staff at the hospices including nurses, doctors, therapists and fundraisers were invited to attend a lunchtime workshop, “Palliative Care Bites: Sitting with the Dying”. In this inspiring and moving session, Jo Fernandes, Nurse Consultant at the Michael Sobell Hospice and Harlington Hospice, spoke about the significance of bedside vigils when a loved one is dying, the role rituals around dying can play in all our lives and shared poignant poetry and art about being with someone in those final moments of life.

A chalkboard and pinboard displaying questions and answers around Dying Matters Awareness Week 2022

The Michael Sobell Hospice displayed their questions and answers in the café area of the in-patient unit

Reflecting on the week, Christine West, Therapy and Day Services Lead at Harlington Hospice, said, “So many of us still feel a sense of fear and mystery when it comes to death, dying and grief. We support this week as it’s an opportunity to get how we feel about death out in the open and support each other in facing these realities, which affect us all, in a safe environment.”

Joan Ahern, Complementary Therapy Lead at the Michael Sobell Hospice added, “For those of us working in end-of-life and palliative care, thinking about death and dying is part of daily life. Dying Matters Awareness Week gets that conversation started outside of the hospice environment. I believe this is essential so we can all plan for an end-of-life journey that is meaningful to each of us and our loved ones.”

The two hospices hope that by creating safe spaces in which to explore feelings around these topics, people can prepare more effectively for death, so that they and their loved ones can be in the best place possible at the end of their life; a sentiment echoed in this year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week theme, #InAGoodPlace.

More information

For more information about Dying Matters Awareness Week, visit the Hospice UK website.

The free wellbeing services provided by the Michael Sobell Hospice and Harlington Hospice are run through a partnership between the two charities.


Thought-provoking responses were given to questions at the hospices

Matron Carol stands with a woman in a blue sari in our gardens at Lansdowne House

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