Canterbury care providers prepare for death awareness week

Canterbury Pilgrims Hospice are hosting ‘The big conversation’ to celebrate Dying Matters Awareness Week next week to get people talking about death.

The Pilgrims Hospice Education team are organising the one-day mini arts festival as part of week-long campaign to normalise the conversation around death and dying.

The event will be held on 18 May at the Ann Robertson Centre and will be hosting a variety of workshops, talks and an information fair to bring the community together with local businesses, artists and health professionals to encourage reflection and conversation around bereavement.

The national campaign set up in 2009 by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) to promote public awareness of dying, death and bereavement and the ‘Dying Matters coalition is aiming to encourage people to talk about their wishes towards the end of their lives, including where they want to die and their funeral plans with friends, family and loved ones.

The organisation states that: “Talking about dying make it more likely that you, or your loved one, will die as you might have wishes and it will make it easier for your loved ones if they know you have had a ‘good death'”

Image: Pilgrims Hospice

There will be activities held throughout the day including life drawing, profane embroidery workshop and wreath making. You can book your tickets here.

Sadie Williams will be attending the event next week, she said: “I’m going to The Big Conversation event to find out more about death and some of the practicalities of planning for the future. It’s something I don’t want my children to worry about.

We plan for the birth of our children so we should plan for our deaths too and involve our families. It’s time to take the stigma out of those conversations.”

Sadie went on to say: “I have started thinking about planning my funeral. My children know I want something fun that focuses on celebrating the positives in life.

“I’ve joked I’d love to have my ashes made into fireworks so I can go out in a blaze of colour and bring that last bit of fun and joy to all.

“However my deep love for the environment means I will want to be as environmentally minded as possible in making my choices. Perhaps a willow coffin or an urn that grows into a tree using my ashes.”

Wendy Hills, Director of Nursing and Care services at Pilgrims Hospice said: “We want to engage with our local communities, using the creative arts to open up the conversation about death and dying.

“We hope that though our community engagement, we can help people to feel more comfortable in thinking about death and dying, and enable families, friends and communities to talk about their fears, beliefs and wishes.”

Image: Pilgrims Hospice
What to expect

At the fair you can expect to meet and talk to representatives from:

  • Barham Crematorium – Local crematorium staff will run a stand to answer questions or queries you have about cremation services.
  • Holly’s Funerals – Contemporary funeral directors working throughout Kent and Sussex.
  • Ecoffins – Manufacturers of eco-friendly coffins and urns.
  • Essentially Hops – Family-run florist based in Bekesbourne.
  • Kent Natural Burials – Talk to representatives from local natural burial grounds.
  • Death doulas – Meet those working as death doulas who offer non-medical support to those facing the end of life.
  • Humanist celebrants – Conductors and writers of non-religious ceremonies including funerals.
  • Community nursing team – Meet the community nurses from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and find out about the support they can offer.
  • Boys & Maughan and Girlings law firms – Bring your legal questions and queries around wills, probate and power of attorney.
  • Pilgrims Hospices team and the Stepping Stones bereavement project – Find out about the support Pilgrims can offer those living with a terminal condition and their families.


The Big Conversation will be held on 18 May at the Ann Robertson Centre.