Key resources for the conversation about death and dying
The Art of Dying Well. A website provided by the Catholic Church of England and Wales, it covers a range of topics including the importance of talking about death. “There is a widespread reluctance to discuss dying. It's rarely easy but not impossible. Discussion helps ensure that you and your loved ones receive the right care and support. And ending the silence about death may help to diminish its terrors and lead to improvements in the quality of your life”.
Dying Matters. Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care, the Dying Matters Coalition aims to challenge the taboo by helping people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and make plans for the end of life. They work for a fundamental change in society in which dying, death and bereavement will be seen and accepted as a natural part of everybody’s life cycle. One key element of this is the Dying Matters Awareness Week in May each year: resources for running events, such as posters, DVDs and handouts, are available from the website.
The Gift of Years. Subtitled ‘resourcing the spiritual journey of older people’, this site from the Bible Reading Foundation (BRF) includes resources about death and dying. One item is the downloadable booklet Living Well in the End Times by Joanna Collicut of the Church of England, which itself includes a useful bibliography.
Grave Talk. A variant on the idea of ‘death cafes’ (discussed in the section on how churches can respond), the Church of England publishes Grave Talk conversation cards designed to be used with small groups and to help them make an easy start to what might be thought of as difficult conversations. The cards can be bought from Church House Publishing, booksellers or Amazon.
Christian Perspectives on Death and Dying. Audio files (and some video) of talks on a range of topics can be listened to on the website (under the Talks tab). These might be used for personal study or group discussion; for more about running a larger event or conference see the section on what can we do? – responding as individuals and churches.
For those with a more academic interest in social aspects of death, dying and bereavement, including differing attitudes in different cultures, the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath provides links to research, articles, etc.