A Challenge!

  • How do you rise to the challenge of talking about Death and Dying and imagining the end-of-life experience not only for yourself but also for your loved ones? 
  • Why would you want to? 
  • Are these conversations important?

Nobody would argue that having conversations with people you love, around Death and Dying, is difficult, not only emotionally but also because for over half a century Death has been hidden away in our hospitals, care homes and hospices, no longer the community event, which once was so common. Talking about Death and Dying is not a conversation most of us have ever had or considered having but talking, thinking, discussing, reflecting on what is important to us as individuals at end of life and recording these wishes, makes sense, as putting plans in place requires time and energy.. 

“Dying well takes planning” is the strap line of Creating Conversations in Croydon and within those four words is a wisdom,, we all should engage with, as death affects us all.

Creating Conversations is a local initiative, a creative, empowering project that has delivered bespoke training to over 50 volunteers, specifically to encourage individuals, families, communities to embrace these challenging conversations around planning ahead for Death and Dying. Our project volunteers have engaged with individuals in many varied and creative ways – hence the name.
You may have seen them in their branded mauve T-Shirts “Creating Conversations in Croydon” on the front, and “Dying Well takes planning” on the back. Over the last two years Creating Conversations volunteers, have facilitated Death Cafes, information stalls at community events, GP surgeries and in public spaces, facilitated creative workshops, hosted dying matters conferences, where both local and national speakers, explored this dying matters narrative. The project has hosted plays and film shows and these experienced volunteers have given talks when invited to community groups, who meet within the borough of Croydon.

The following five important aspects can all be considered immediately with a realistic 90 days timescale for completion.

  1. Legal and financial matters
    Only 33% of us, have made a Will, and even less of us have thought about creating a Lasting Power of Attorney, A legal document appointing someone we trust, to manage our financial affairs and/or health and well being, if we become incapacitated. In reality, by not having these important document s in place. can often lead to chaos and family tensions, the very opposite of giving a gift of peace.
  2. Advance Care Planning
    This can be completed at any stage of life. A good starting point is imagining how you would like to experience end of life care, such as where you would like to die, who you would wish to be present, is pain relief important and how would you like your clinical and spiritual care to be managed. Exploring where to die, is empowering and having this recorded, makes it more likely wishes can be fulfilled. In later life, plans can also be recorded on a System called Co- ordinate My Care, (CMC) a electronic way, that personal wishes and clinical care can be communicated and coordinated by different professionals who may be involved in your care, including the London Ambulance Service, GP’s and community nurses, hospital doctors and nurses. 
  3. Organ donation
    Make sure your family and friends know of your wishes, so they can be communicated to the medical profession. These wishes can also be recoded on CMC.
  4. Legacy,
    How we would like to be remembered.  Interesting by talking about Death and Dying helps us to appreciate life and certainly helps us leave a legacy of peace.
  5. Funerals 
    These can take a great deal of planning and by writing down funeral wishes long before the actual event, including burial or cremation, type of coffin, flowers or charity donation, what type of service and venue, gives grieving relatives a gift of peace, knowing they are fulfilling their loved ones wishes.

Similar to the African saying it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes a community to die well, with professionals, charities, volunteers, family and friends, all working together to fulfil our Dying wishes.

Engaging with this project, would be a first step in starting these difficult conversations, as Death affects us all and studies and antidotal evidence shows planning well for end of life, gives those we leave behind a most precious gift of peace.
This is one persons comments on the project . “The Creating Conversations in Croydon project has helped me to consider many aspects about my care, should something unexpected happen, as well as death and dying. This includes recording my wishes so that arrangements for my end of life care and death is less of a burden for others”.

Our next events are our regular Death Café’s:

  • Costas in Thornton Heath, 3rd Wednesday of the month from 6.00 - 7.30pm, next date 21st November
  • The Octagon Hub, New Addington Central Parade, 4th Friday of the month, 1.00 - 3.00pm, next date 23rd November
  • Selsdon Library every 3 months, next one Friday 7th December, 5.00 - 6.30pm

If you have never attended a Death Café , this is the view of one of our volunteers “Every Death Cafe I've attended has been different, as the group is lead by the interests of those attending. They are a great opportunity to meet with others over a cake and a coffee, to explore the issues, to receive support and to pick up information in a friendly, welcoming setting.”

We also hold a Bereavement Café on the 2nd Friday of the month at the Clocktower Café, Katherine Street, 11.00am -1.00pm, next dates 9th November; 14th December.

Other events where you can come and engage with our volunteers are the drop in session at:

  • Ashburton Libray, 1st December,  from 10am – 12noon 
  • Croydon Central Library, 8th December, from 11am – 2pm 
  • Shirley library TBA and 
  • A talk at Ashburton Library on Monday 3rd December 11am – 12 noon titled 'My Life, My legacy'

Future events are displayed on St Christopher’s website

or via Twitter @CCinCroydon

Carol Trower
Creating Conversations Project Lead