Dying Matters Awareness Week in Spalding and district

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Next time you sit down for a cosy chat with your loved one start the conversation.

A good opener might be to ask what’s on their bucket list... or you could simply cut to the chase and ask, ‘Cremation or burial?’

Emma Warner is just 35 but she has had that conversation with her husband, who knows what her wishes are at end of life.

She’s unusual in that death, dying, bereavement and grief are all part of her daily work.

Emma is a St Barnabas Hospice specialist nurse practitioner, covering both the community – including the Spalding area – and day therapy services.

Emma is helping to get the community talking openly about death, dying and bereavement, particularly this week, Dying Matters Awareness Week.

She says: “Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that we are all going to die at some point, but in British society we are still quite closed to having that conversation: it’s still very much a taboo subject.”

Emma is hoping people will feel encouraged to discuss what they would like to happen at the end of their life during the awareness week.

Among activities St Barnabas has organised, there is an awareness stand, in conjunction with Butterfly Hospice Trust, at the Johnson Hospital in Spalding on Tuesday (9am-3pm).

There is also a Death Cafe being help at Three Counties Deli and Coffee Shop at Long Sutton on Thursday (7-9pm), where tea, cake and open conversation about death are on offer.

‘Talking about death won’t kill you’ is the slogan St Barnabas has used on the poster advertising this last event, and Emma agrees some people are unwilling to talk about death because they fear it will “make it happen”.

But what Emma wants is for people of all ages to speak about death in a positive manner – and she believes we need to change the culture by starting with youngsters.

Sadly, in her line of work Emma tends to come across people who know they are dying, and they are their loved ones may or may not have had that talk, or are waiting for the right time.

As Emma says, we don’t always know, so it’s a good idea to start the conversation now.