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Health news: Dying really does matter - have you had the Big Conversation?

News   •   May 04, 2016 16:21 BST

Talking about dying won’t make it happen…that’s the message for this year’s Dying Matters Week, which runs from 9th – 15th May, and local people are encouraged to have ‘the Big Conversation’.

Dying Matters aims to raise public awareness about the importance of talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement and of planning ahead.

Every minute someone in the UK dies, but many of us still do not feel comfortable talking about dying. Talking more openly about dying can help you to make the most of life and to support loved ones. Many of us have strong views about our care and what happens after we die, but if we don’t talk about our wishes these are unlikely to be met.

NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust have teamed up to deliver a number of events during Dying Matter’s week in a range of settings including care homes, other care settings, community centres and there will also be training for key staff. Memory boxes will be personalised with people filling them with items they want to be remembered by, and health care staff training will provide the skills and confidence to have these conversations with patients and carers.

During the week, The Bury Carers Centre will be hosting an event for carers to support the Big Conversation. Taking place from 11am until 3pm on Tuesday 10th May at Bury Carers Centre (Victoria Buildings, 9 - 13 Silver Street Bury), carers can just ‘drop in’ for a cup of tea whilst getting advice and information on various themes that impact on carers and their families, from financial issues to legal matters and funeral planning. In addition, there will be similar events held at the Jinnah Centre on Alfred Street Bury from 1 – 3pm on Wednesday 11th May; and at ADAB on Heywood Street Bury from 12 noon until 2pm on Thursday 12th May.

Dr. Debbie Hartley is a local GP and the Clinical Lead for End of Life Care for NHS Bury CCG, she said: “None of us likes to think about getting ill and dying, but not talking about it won’t make it go away, any more than talking about dying will make it happen sooner. Having the Big Conversation can help you to live well and to make the most of life.”

“We are lucky in our lives that there are so many things we get more than one chance to get right, but when it comes to dying, and caring for those we love at the end of their life, we really do only get one chance to get it right. Talking about it won’t make it happen, but it may save your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions.”

Top tips for having the Big Conversation:

  • You don’t have to be ill or dying to talk about it and to put plans in place.
  • You may find it easiest to start talking about what you wouldn’t want rather than what you do want.
  • You could talk about what your ‘something to remember me by' would be.
  • Talking about dying doesn’t have to be depressing, and humour can be a real help.
  • Once you’ve overcome any initial awkwardness there is every chance you will be relieved to have had the conversation.
  • Don’t let being worried about saying the wrong thing stop you from being there for people who are terminally ill or who have been bereaved.

For more information and advice about Dying Matters visit