Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In some ways, my take on the importance of putting dying ‘out there’, contradicts the blog itself. Dying is not an illness, though usually results from it. While rationally we may know that it is inevitable, mostly we deny and resist the very notion of it.

This is ‘Dying Matters’ (www.dyingmatters.org) awareness week, where various events across the country aim to raise the awareness of dying, death and bereavement. The week’s theme is ‘small actions, big difference’.

I am hugely supportive of this incentive. My work in Palliative Care consolidated my belief that death and dying remain the ultimate taboos, and as a result we struggle to discuss their reality in any true sense.

A few years ago, in a somewhat idealistic notion of tackling this reticence in my own life, I bought the most magical illustrated book, which I read with my then sub-teenage daughter, Duck, Death and the Tulip, by the German artist and writer Wolf Erlbruch. The book follows Duck, who is accompanied by Death from the outset. Yet, by the end, although we realise and even accept that death does stalk life, the relationship need not be a fearful one.

Check out the calendar on the Dying Matters website. In London, I am particularly looking forward to the photographic exhibition at the Dray Walk Gallery, Old Truman Brewery (May 15 to May 20), featuring the work of Nadia Betteqa that focuses on terminal illness.

I will use the opportunity of the ‘Dying Matters’ awareness week to look at portrayals of death and dying from illness on the screen, including the films Time to Leave, Third Star, My Life Without Me, and The Sea Inside.